Media Release

Rugby League thriving in Eastern Europe

23 Dec 21, 6:31PM 0 Comments

Irena Lateta has become the first woman elected to the Serbia Rugby League Federation board since its original formation in 1953, taking up the position of marketing director. An expert in the field, she saw her first game at the beginning of October 2021 when the national side defeated Ukraine in Euro Championship B.

Immediately drawn to the sport, she pledged to assist to gain more awareness and popularity of it in the country. “I hope that with my expertise in the area of marketing, I will be able to contribute to the continued growth of the game, which has recently seen the national men’s side move into the top ten in the world,” she commented.

“This is the first time I have been given the opportunity to help promote sport in Serbia through my acquired contacts. I also hope that my appointment will help to empower women in rugby league and also contribute to the development of Serbian women’s rugby league.”

SRLF board member, Radoslav Novakovic, added: “This appointment fits into our strategy to have more women involved in the game both on and off the field, and with EU-funded Erasmus plus project ‘Fair Coaching’ in which one of the objectives is gender equality and empowerment of women in sport. We are renewing our plans for a return to action for women, and three Serbian clubs have received a grant and support from Belgrade City Council for the affirmation of women’s sport.”

Meanwhile, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Rugby League Association and club FIS Vitez have completed the first part of their youth project, ‘Play sports, Play rugby league’ with a touch tournament at the Vitez City Sports Hall, supported by the local Municipality and regional government.

After more than a month and a half of work at the Vitez Elementary School, a competition between classes was organized with students from 6th to 9th grade. About 200 participated and learned rugby league skills, ending with a touch tournament for trophies presented by the Municipality of Vitez chief executive Boris Marijanovic, and after which they were all awarded diplomas.

The project was successfully undertaken by instructors and players from FIS Vitez; Viktor Bilic, Alem Sabanović, David Zuljevic, Stjepan Krizanac, Zvonimir Ljubanic, and Bosnia and Herzegovina national team coach Dado Vrebac and assistant coach Marko Banovic, in cooperation with physical education teacher Marija Vujica.

President of the club and BHRLA, Zeljko Ljubanic, said: “It was a great day for rugby league in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Youth rugby league is our future and we are indebted to the Municipality of Vitez and Ministry of Education, Science, Culture, Youth and Sports of the Central Bosnia Canton for supporting this, along with the Direct Aid Project financed by the Australian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I hope these initiatives, which are offered free of charge, will continue to support us and that the project will cover the whole Bosnia and Herzegovina in the future.”

The BHRLA are hoping that the interest generated will see more players joining the club whilst the scheme is next set to feature an inter-school competition.

A similar number of youngsters played in an U11s tag tournament in Ukraine, under the title ‘Olympic hopes.’ Nine teams were represented from Lviv, Kyiv, Ternopil, Donesk region, Khmelnytskyi and Rivne. Hard Sign from Donesk took the gold medals, Burevisnyl of Khmelnytskyi the silvers and Lyiv Rhinos bronze.

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