In 2017 ECSS travelled to the city of Essen in the Metropolis Ruhr region of Germany. This large population center counts five million people including more than 110.000 students, of which 15.000 are international. The congress, though smaller in numbers, was a successful event in all aspects. High quality science was presented within all session formats and the social programme demonstrated German culture at its best.

We took a moment to reflect on the congress organising experience with one of the congress presidents, Professor Alexander Ferrauti. Please read below the summary of the interview.


The 2017 ECSS congress didn’t land in the hands of the local team by accident. Together with his colleagues Petra Platen, Elke Grimminger-Seidensticker and Thomas Jaitner they followed the vision of a closer networking between young and experiences researchers in Europe, in Germany and in Metropolis Region in the field of sport science. It was also a strategic decision to profile the Metropolis Ruhr region and the three host universities (Bochum, Duisburg-Essen and Dortmund) within international sport science.

Alex and colleagues have visited the ECSS congress for many years and they were thrilled to bring the young, colourful and lively congress to their region.

It’s a long, comprehensive process organising an ECSS congress. The decision to host ECSS MetropolisRuhr 2017 was made in Bruges 2012. Many steps were taken and issues were addressed and organised well ahead of the congress doors opening at Messe Essen in July 2017. This process allowed the local team to grow together. Since the congress, they have started new projects across the universities. For example, a new international Master’s Programme in Sport, Exercise and Health Science is now open for applications and the first students are starting in Autumn 2018.

The congress was well received by the local universities. Also, the University Alliance Ruhr gave credit to the event and the organising team. Within the Ruhr University Bochum, the congress received positive feedback and it was one of the biggest congress the university had been involved with.

ECSS MetropolisRuhr 2017 was full of outstanding scientific presentations. Once again the plenary sessions were the bloodline of the congress. The local team built their programme around four key themes reflecting scientific relevant aspects of the Metropolis Ruhr region: identification, inactivity, inclusion and individuality. These were also the themes for the four plenary sessions. Plenary sessions are always very important to the success of a congress and the topics are challenging for the organisers to select. This is because plenaries have to address the expectations of the whole sport science community coming from very different disciplines.

For example, Alex highlighted the ‘inclusion’ session at the congress. In this session speakers approached the topic from two completely opposite perspectives – a philosophical and a biomechanical - but at the end of the session had a very fruitful discussion beyond the borders of their own field of expertise.

After the congress is also before the congress. Next year ECSS travels to Dublin, Ireland. Alex finds the scientific programme exhilarating and an interesting mix of new (e.g. digitalisation and eHealth) and important familiar topics providing a strong differentiation of knowledge or an addition to previous evidence. He looks forward to attend the sessions about exercise and blood flow restriction as well as basic science aspects on cellular and molecular level. Alex also looks forward to the applied sport science presented at the congress, sessions like performance in golf and fatigue in children.

Every ECSS congress that Alex has taken part in has had its strengths and he has very good memories from each one. Alex explains that it’s always interesting to experience the local flavour and the cultural differences. This is the charm of the ECSS. City cycling in the centre of Amsterdam and driving a scooter to Montjuic in Barcelona were valuable experiences for Alex as a congress participant. With the support of the ECSS office, every local host is doing its best to organise the best possible congress. The scientific programme always has its pros and cons, but for Alex the most important thing is to be well prepared in the morning of each congress day for choosing the right sessions. The aim should be to pick up at least some new issues and to avoid an information overload. On top of that Alex also enjoys visiting the congress exhibition, which in his opinion works the best when the booths are in the same space, close together, similar to Essen.

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