By Phil Caplan, Date: 9/3/13
The Lebanese Rugby League Federation has cancelled the 2013 MENA Under-16 Championship due to the deteriorating political situation in the region.
Interim LRLF COO Faysal Jaber said, â€œLebanon is undeniably a great location for rugby league tournaments and up until this point the LRLF has always found a way to work through and around any abnormal circumstance the country might find itself in. As much as the Federation loves to promote the game, the wellbeing of the players is our upmost priority and with this in mind we must regrettably cancel this yearâ€™s MENA U16s Championship.
â€œDue to the various circumstances that the country is going through right now, our coaches have not been able to reach the entire playing group for even one training session. And with no end in sight, it would be unreasonable for us to allow Saudi Schools Select to travel out here.â€
As well as the tense security situation, with over half a million Syrian refugees believed to be in the country, and sporadic sectarian and politically-motivated violence in the north, which included an assassination attempt on the sports minister in Tripoli last month, a national strike by teachers is now into its third week.
â€œThe sport is seeing exceptional growth in the MENA region and the Championship has continued to grow in strength at various age groups throughout the past few years. We look forward to holding many more MENA tournaments in Lebanon in years to come,â€ added Jaber.
The MENA Championship was created in 2010 as a vehicle to aid regional growth by providing a fixed calendar of competitions at several age groups. The open age, U16 and U14 tournaments have been played annually since then, with the U18 being added in 2012.
Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Lebanon have participated so far, with the UAE and Egypt keen to join this year.