2 July 2024 – Düsseldorf

FISU Young Reporters: 'A game-changer'

It can test skills you never knew you had, open doors to a career you did not think possible, and mould new friendships from all over the world. For 22-year-old German student Annika Saunus, the FISU Young Reporters Programme has been all this, and more. Even if, by her own admission, she was sceptical at first.

'When I first saw the brochure advertising the programme, I remember reading that it was a ‘true game-changer’ for young journalists'', Annika, a sports business student from a small village near Plauen in Saxony, says.

'I thought it sounded quite exaggerating. I mean, how can one programme change your life? But looking back, I can say this was no exaggeration, because it really has been one of the best experiences of my life.'

Created in 2011, the FISU Young Reporters Programme takes a team of aspiring sports journalists to each edition of the FISU World University Games, where they spend around 12 days reporting on a truly global multi-sport event.

Annika’s experience began in 2022, when she was on a study year in the United States and saw a flyer advertising the programme for the Lake Placid 2023 FISU World University Games Winter.

Annika Saunus (2nd from right) with the Young Reporters Team in Lake Placid 2023 ©Annika Saunus

'I really didn’t think I would get in but I thought, ‘This sounds so cool, I just have to apply for it’,” she recalls. “I’ve never put so much effort into an application. I’m a freelance journalist for a newspaper at home and I love writing, so I just tried to put everything into that motivational letter.'

To Annika’s surprise, her application hit the mark. Together with five other students from Argentina, France, Slovenia, South Korea, and the US, she was accepted onto the programme in January 2023 and given training on how to operate in the ‘mixed zone’, where student-athletes face the world’s media.

'I was nervous for sure', Annika says. 'All of the interviews I had done before were at local running competitions back home, and this was a whole different setting. We had the FISU TV team there with the camera and the mic and everything, and I had never done anything like that. But once I started interviewing, it just felt kind of natural, so I think that helped a lot.'

Annika performed so well, she was invited back for the summer edition of the FISU Games held later that same year in Chengdu, China.

Annika Saunus interviews an athlete in the mixed zone. ©Annika Saunus

'I’ve learned more from those two programmes than during my whole time as a student, for sure. It’s like nothing you will learn in a classroom. Maybe some people read the brochure and think, ‘Yeah, this is a nice-looking programme, but it has nothing to do with the real world’.' It has.

'I went to Rome last month to report on the European Athletics Championships, and in terms of the mixed zones, media workrooms, and how you approach athletes, everything was the same as a FISU Games. So really, what you are getting is real life practice.'

The initiative is now being expanded to include aspiring commentators and photographers for the first time, under the new title, ‘FISU Young Sports Media Talents’. The intake will swell accordingly, with 50 places on offer to national and international students aged between 18 and 25 at the time of the Rhine-Ruhr 2025 FISU World University Games. 

A significant upscaling from her time on the programme, Annika is sure one essential component will remain unchanged. 

'In Lake Placid we were six people from all over the world who only knew each other's names from getting the same emails, but from day one we understood each other', she says. 'We bonded so well, we even went to Paris on a vacation together last year. That's just one of the best things you can have: an international network professionally, but also with friends. It’s been an amazing experience and yes, now I really would say it’s a game-changer of a programme.'

Applications for the FISU Young Sports Media Talents project for the Rhine-Ruhr 2025 FISU Games will open in October 2024, when a series of open-access guest lectures on various topics in the field of sports media will also begin.

For any enquiries about the project please contact the team at