The first edition of the ISF U15 World School Sport Games took place in Belgrade from September 11 to 19 ©ISF

The International School Sport Federation (ISF) has expressed its satisfaction at managing to hold a successful first edition of the Under-15 World School Sport Games, despite the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

Competition in Belgrade took place from September 11 to 19, and featured 2,500 participants aged 13 to 15 from 35 countries.

Reflecting on the event ISF President Laurent Petrynka said: "What is most striking to see is the smiles of the young participants and their joy of being together.

"The enthusiasm of young people and adults on the occasion of this first edition of ISF U15 WSSG Belgrade 2021 is our motivation at ISF.

"The combined efforts of our members and schools, as well as the implementation by our Serbian federation of health protocols, have made it possible to organise games applying the new version of our educational and sports programme.

"We are satisfied to have been able, like the International Olympic Committee, to offer a multisport event allowing young people to meet.

"It is important in this time of crisis, that young people and their entourage understand that we organise events at their destinations to allow them to continue to flourish.

"It is significant for us to continue to carry the message on the Olympic values in the school environment and especially of the importance of sport as a vehicle of encounter, culture, and development of young people."

Values including fair play were promoted as part of the educational stands at the event ©ISF
Values including fair play were promoted as part of the educational stands at the event ©ISF

ISF secretary general Hrvoje Custonja added: "This inaugural multisport U15 ISF event was a triple challenge not only because it was a first for this age group, then because no ISF event has included so many educational activities in the past and then obviously because the pandemic is still present.

"We must underline in this globalised world, that the maturity of the young participants was exceptional in their implication and interest.

"We believe that we have achieved our objective of playing sports as a tool for learning about well-being and citizenship."

Alongside the sporting competition, education and development activities included the Fun and Skill Zone, ISF Forum, Nations Night and seminars on topics including safeguarding.

The ISF has signed Memorandums of Understanding with the Badminton World Federation, International Basketball Federation, International Chess Federation, International Judo Federation and United World Wrestling (UWW) and was pleased to welcome representatives from all those organisations to the event.

UWW President Nenad Lalovic said: "We believe that our sport, for being one of the most natural sports with the human body and human psychology, should be hugely represented in the educational system."

On the field of play, participants took part in 14 sports - athletics, badminton, basketball, 3x3 basketball, chess, football, judo, karate, orienteering, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball and wrestling.

Competition took place across 14 sports at the inaugural ISF U15 World School Sport Games ©ISF
Competition took place across 14 sports at the inaugural ISF U15 World School Sport Games ©ISF

Of these sports, action from the basketball, 3x3 basketball, football, judo and wrestling competitions were live streamed on the Olympic Channel, giving the event the chance to reach a wider audience.

Ukraine sent the largest delegation to the Games with 271 athletes, while the ISF highlighted the performances of teams from some of its newer member countries.

Uganda, which joined in 2018, won the boys 3x3 basketball competition while Mexico, which joined the ISF in 2019, were victorious in the boys basketball event.

The ISF prides itself on organising competitions that specifically promote participation, with one of these being in table tennis in the form of friendship doubles.

Pieter Schippers from the ISF Table Tennis Technical Commission said: "The friendship doubles is a special tournament that gives the opportunity to these young athletes to find out more about each other, mixing with other players.

"The operation is to make a double tournament, it can be teams with different nations, with different genders, everything is possible but if they win, they go to the next step with a new partner.

"So you can go to the final in four rounds with always another partner because it gives the opportunity to play with a partner from another country, and with partners, you have to play together."

The next edition of the ISF Under-15 World School Sport Games is scheduled to take place in Brazil in 2023.