Lebanon Funding Boost

The Rugby Football League and 1895 International have combined to provide a funding package to assist with the development of the sport in Lebanon.

The RFL sought and received the support of the Rugby League International Federation at the meeting in Sydney and the European Federation to provide assistance to Lebanon. The RLIF has agreed to provide a level of funding and this grant has been matched equally by 1895 International.

The grant will enable the RFL and 1895 International to provide an equal amount of money that will assist personnel, based in Beirut, to maintain grass roots development activity in the country in the lead-up work to and staging of the Mediterranean Cup competition, involving four regional nations, in October 2004.

Commenting on the decision, Rugby Football League Executive Chairman Richard Lewis, who is also Deputy Chairman of the Rugby League European Federation, said: "We are pleased to be able to jointly support the ongoing development of the game in Lebanon with 1895 International in this way.

"The RFL and the RLEF are keen to maintain and expand a tier of international competition for 'non-senior' nations and the Mediterranean Cup is a vital component of that vision".

Lewis added: "There has already been good progress generated by those involved with Rugby League in Lebanon and we are keen to see that continue and flourish"

Lionel Hurst, Chairman of 1895 International, said: "We are delighted on two counts. Firstly, to see the continuance of the good work in the Mediterranean region and secondly, to be working for the greater good in partnership with the game's governing bodies. This all means in the international arena, an excellent new season for the fine sport of Rugby League."

Lebanon competed in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup and won Rugby League's Mediterranean Cup in 2002 and 2003. Currently four teams play in its domestic competition

Lebanese Development Officer Danny Kazandjian added: "The decision to provide funding for Lebanon RL shows a fundamental belief by the game?s highest authorities that international grass roots development and the elite Mediterranean Cup concept are central to Rugby League?s expansion and continuing vibrancy.

"In Lebanon we have been pursuing a number of revenue streams with the government, the European Union and corporate sponsors for several months. At present demand for Rugby League amongst Lebanon?s universities and sports clubs far outstrips our capacity to supply them with qualified coaches.

"This joint-funding initiative gives us an opportunity to see these various projects come to fruition with the positive effect to certain to filter down from Lebanon?s grass roots game to nations such as Morocco, Greece, Serbia and others in the region."