By Phil Caplan, Date: 18/4/13
Scotland Rugby League has hosted three delegates from Latvia who observed the Braveheartsâ€™ U15 and U16 national camp held at Sportscotlandâ€™s National Centre in Largs.
Also, as part of the RLEFâ€™s European Commission-backed Governance Foundation Project, the trio participated in an SRL Board meeting, the trip forming the second phase of an exchange after SRL National Development Manager Mark Senter visited Riga in December 2012.
Vilmars Sokolovs, Latvia Rugby League Manager, said: “It was extremely interesting to discover that the actual and sometimes problematic issues of SRL are amazingly similar to us – the difference is just their scale. The knowledge and experience that we gained here, as well as SRL and RLEF help, will allow us to overcome the difficulties faced by all countries where rugby of any kind is not a traditional sport.
â€œOur coaches – Aivis Ashmanis, Janis Pashkus and myself – had the opportunity to work and gain experience with leading Scottish youth coaches as well as Super League club St Helens, whose development manager Neil Kilshaw and youth team coach Steven Leonard were also present. The skills and experience that we obtained are invaluable for the whole of Latvian rugby league, we have friends who can help us with advice, knowledge and share experience.â€
SRLâ€™s Mark Senter added: â€œMy visit to Latvia in 2012 gave me a good indication of how Scotland could better support Latvia Rugby League. The national camp had a clear focus on planning and reviewing coaching practices which I hope will be beneficial to Vilmars, Janis and Aivis in the future. We hope to organise a development tour there in 2014 to help them raise the awareness of rugby league in Latvia.â€