Rugby league in Europe has received a record-breaking financial boost to end what has been a pioneering season for the sport on the continent.
The RLEF has been awarded a biggest-ever grant of €466.000 from the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme – one of only 22 projects selected for funding from over 330 eligible applications – for a three year scheme which includes 21 nations.
The monies will fund a programme entitled the ‘Training and Education Portal’ (TEP) which will be implemented through six clusters, two of whom will be led by Ukraine and Serbia who will be involved in an RLEF-EU project for the first time, and who have been added due to their expertise in grassroots technical education.
“The European Union has been a critically important partner of the RLEF,” said General Manager Danny Kazandjian. “They have been full-square behind the expansion and progress we have made over the last five years. This new project has the potential to change the face of the sport in Europe and we are incredibly excited to begin implementing it.”
The TEP will see the formation of an RLEF education department which will have the assistance and backing of two of rugby league’s biggest names in its delivery, with Leeds Rhinos being the lead expert partner on coaching and St Helens taking on a similar role for the development of match officials.
The project will also increase the federation’s suite of qualifications from four to ten and sees them registered on the European Qualifications Framework. It will also introduce an e-Learning component and technical portal.
Additional funding is being supplied by the Rugby League International Federation.
“Rugby league in Europe continues to grow rapidly,” continued Kazandjian. “The RLEF is dealing with the fundamental need to ensure its expanding network of members is equipped with knowledgeable and qualified staff able to disseminate the sport’s on-and off-field values and cutting-edge sporting techniques at a high level. We are also ensuring that it is administered by robust, democratic and transparent national governing bodies.”
Previously, the RLEF has won EU grants of €5,000 from the EC mission in the UK in 2010, €80,000 from the Leonardo da Vinci programme in 2011, and a total of €298.000 in 2012-13 from the Sport Unit.
Erasmus+ was launched in January 2015 and is the catch-all programme for youth, education and sport projects.