Tas Baitieri, Global Development Manager for the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), visited Serbia for talks with the governing body and to review their progress. Baitieri met with members of the Board of Directors and the national team coach in the federation’s new offices in central Belgrade
It was his second visit to the country nine years after his initial trip when he then observed the local ’State of Origin’ clash in Pancevo, the immediate legacy of which was Serbia’s first tour, to France in 2003.
“When I got the invitation to first come to Serbia and I didn’t know what to expect,“ Baitieri said. “The game was played not far from Belgrade, on a ground that was walled on three sides. The players knew the rules and although the technical and physical standard wasn’t too high they knew how to play rugby league. I was really pleased to see that sport existed again in Serbia after it had come to a halt in 1964 in the former Yugoslavia.”
This week, having witnessed a comprehensive presentation and review of the clubs, competitions and media coverage, Baitieri is clearly impressed with the state of the game there.
“It is clear how much time has passed,“ he continued. “Serbia will play in this year’s World Cup qualification for the second time; they have twice hosted the Under 16s European Cup, welcolmed a number of strong national teams, and even students from New South Wales.“
“Serbia has become one of the nations with the highest credibility in Europe, however, continuing development is something we should constantly strive for. I can see that the people running the game here have a lot of ideas, most of their vision is quite attainable so I have no doubt that our sport will continue to grow in this Central European stronghold.“
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