There seem to be thousands of them. They are popping up everywhere, the teenagers dressed in green Portugal shirts. Seeing them everywhere may not be surprising. The TikTok kids, a group of Sporting Club de Portugal from Lisbon, for example, is here with 120 youngsters. And they are tireless. “The National Evening of Portugal, the Beach Party, our own shows, a trip to the historic center of Amsterdam; we participate in everything. We didn’t want to miss a thing.”
Written by: Edward Swier
They are super active, from early in the morning until late at night. If a favorite song sounds somewhere, the group, roughly between 9 and 20 years old, dances and jumps to it. If there is a DJ, they stick around. When peers from other parts of Portugal perform, they go. And when new friends from Switzerland and Sweden perform, they go there as well.
Petra – in perfect English – explains what is “so great about this week. We are just enjoying everything. You are part of a very big team here. That consists not just of your own group, not just your country’s delegation, no, you are part of a big team of up to almost 20,000 people. That’s what it really feels like. It’s a very special feeling that you can hardly describe. But above all it is a very warm feeling.”
The trip to Holland has been worth all the training hours. ,,That period was already tremendous fun. We practiced a lot together. In the hall, at the club. But also online. Then one of us makes up a move, which we then all imitate.” They call themselves the TikTok kids. You do not need to look for better proof that they are the future.
Four years from now, Kenya, Petra and Francisco are already sure, they will absolutely be there again. The World Gymnaestrada will be just around the corner, in their hometown of Lisbon. Now they traveled all over Europe, an adventure in itself. And on that trip they made, they feel, friends for life. ,,When I change schools in Lisbon, I never see most of them again. But with the people who, for example, were previously still on our team at Sporting Club de Portugal, I’m still in touch now. And with the children with whom I am getting acquainted here, I will also keep in touch,” thinks Francisco, who, like Petra, has a slightly raspy voice. ”Maybe not strange because we also went to the Beach Party and the Silent Disco.”
Meanwhile, outside the RAI and the Olympic Stadium, they also feasted their eyes. They marveled at how orderly the Netherlands is. “When we arrived and landed at Schiphol Airport, we saw how neatly the houses are lined up.” Even Amsterdam, still a lot more chaotic, they describe as “organized. That’s quite different from the mess at our place. Lisbon is a mess, but a beautiful mess.” It is precisely these experiences that have eternal value. Young people discover the world thanks to the World Gymnaestrada, will remember it forever.
They also want to wish those memories in advance to everyone who comes to Lisbon in four years. Kenya: “That’s also going to be an incredible celebration.”