School rugby league programmes have started in Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Turkey as the sport continues to expand its footprint across the Balkan region.
Montenegro Rugby League is working with U12s, 13s and 14s across five schools in the cities of Tivat and Kotor, in a programme led by PE teacher and national team player Mitar Boskovic, who completed the ERL level 1 coaching course in September.
MRL president, Igor Adzaip, commented: “Our goal is to expand our development and start to work with the youth in order to establish two more clubs and start a domestic competition. Montenegro is small in population but very good in team sports, we will continue cooperation with the other Balkan nations.” Further schools are set to join in seaside areas Herceg Novi, Budva and Bar, the capital Podgorica, and cities Niksic and Cetinje.
Bosnia and Herzegovina RL has started a promotion in schools in Vitez in cooperation with the local club and city council, in a prelude to kicking off U14s and 15s competition. Zeljko Ljubanic, of the B&HRLA said: “We have restarted a youth development programme that the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown stopped us implementing. We have had great cooperation with the Australian Embassy in Vienna, including two direct aid grants for youth development. We hope that we will spread the programme in all regions where we have registered rugby league clubs.”
The scheme in Turkey is centred upon the Istanbul suburb of Besiktas and is being run by national team manager and head coach of Kadikoy Bulls, Julien Treu. The plan is to create the Besiktas Rugby League Academy.