SOS Kit Aid

Catch up here with updates from some of our recipient

countries.

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SOS Visits Lithuania - 2019

After a ten year break the SOS team returned to Lithuania. Andy Thompson, Paul Beet and Richard Westaway travelled to Lithuania to see how the flow of kit from SOS was helping and supporting Lithuanian Rugby.

A big thank you to Paul for his support by way of helping with travel and stash for the SOS team, his fantastic donation of 100 mini rugby as gifts to our hosts went down with much excitement from the kids.

We initially travelled to Vilnius where we greeted by the past president of the Federation Alek. We then watched a very entertaining and well contested Under 16 game in Vilnius. We were surprised to find the visiting team from Siauliai had travelled 200+ miles return trip, on a Friday evening, to play the game.  See Picture 1

Lithuania 1

The next day we moved 100+ miles north to what is now the home and HQ of Lithuanian Rugby in Siauliai, (pronounced Cholay). There we met Irmantas Kukulskis the President and Kornelija Salnaite (Nelly) Secretary at their new offices. 

Seeing what they have done and listening to their ambitious plans was extremely impressive to say the least, as resources and money are very tight. Especially when we found that the Irmantas the President had been involved in physically doing the building work himself supported by many of the local players who happen to be tradesman. ….. good old school rugby ethos. See Picture 2

Liy

It has been ten years since Andy Thompson visited Lithuania Rugby with Alek who was the president at the time, enthusiasm was the watch word and this was at the beginning of SOS deliveries, an association which has stood the test of time.

Certainly, with Irmantas as President, the game has moved forward in many ways with very much a professional outlook to determine a sustainable way ahead. The HQ is ‘work in progress’, the Rugby academy which was close has now been built and has a 500-seater stadium, which would grace and be the envy of any western European rugby club.

With 13 adult teams competing in two leagues and many of these clubs having large junior sections with up to 150 children playing rugby in each club the future looks bright. In addition, some other clubs have only a junior section with the idea of forming a senior section as the children get older….so all in all an ambitious rugby plan, but the foundations are being set for the future.

What really surprised the SOS team, it was also an emotional point too, was the work that the Rugby Union are doing with “Street kids” Orphans. After they finish their school day, they are taken to the rugby facilities and given further education, determined a safe place to go, which includes rugby as the major sport, extolling the virtues and trust that our great game gives. Additionally, they are just beginning to give psychological help to these Children as their back stories are horrifying. Already some of these kids are playing in the Junior teams at the local clubs, one of which is being coached by Irmantas’ Father, which we all agreed were a true rugby family. See Picture 3

Lithuania 3

Our meeting with Irmantas was very productive, with further thought necessary as to the kit being given now and what we need to send to help them to the next stage, we also need to consider additional help that we can assist with by way of networking into the greater rugby family

The day finished watching a top Baltic League senior game that was keenly contested, followed by a dinner at which RW presenting a Golf day shirt to the President. See Picture 4

Lithunia 4

Sunday was a ‘kids’ tournament day, when we watched around 50 teams on two sites in Siauliai ranging from under 9s to under 14s. There was much evidence of SOS kit on view, the SOS team presented three set of shirts to local rugby clubs that the President felt deserved the kit for various reasons. The level and standard of coaching was of a good but as is the same the whole world over there was huge support from parents. 

The tournaments take place on a regular basis throughout the season in as many venues around the country that are able to cope with.

Pictures of shirts being presented

•          5 - The first team that got the jerseys were Jurbarkas rugby club "Lūšis" (Facebook page)

Lithuania 5

•          6 - The second team that got the jerseys (with the stripes) were Vilnius rugby club "Geležinis vilkas" (Facebook page)

Lithuania 6

•          7 - The third team that got the black jerseys were Šilutė team (Facebook page)

Lithuania 7

The SOS team would like to say A MASSIVE THANK YOU to our Hosts, especially to Nelly for her great organisation and her brilliant English.

On a personal note from the SOS team …. these visits are always rewarding, emotional and humbling. It’s extremely difficult to find words to express how you feel during and particularly after such visits and also just how highly SOS Kit Aid are thought of …. just because we bothered to collect a few shirts or shorts on a cold wet Monday evening. 

We can of course say thank you and yes we can carry on collecting kit, which of course we must do. We must therefore continue to find ways of sending kit because we know it makes a difference to a child somewhere. …. This is best summed up for us when we gave a set of shirts to a team on Sunday morning who said …. We now look like champions so we must now play like champions and they certainly tried to do so, if only you could capture the look on their faces when looking down at their new prized possession a new rugby shirt!

Our very best wishes to all at that Lithuanian Rugby Federation

Andy, Paul & Richard

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BOSNIA 

"Thank you very much for your help and everything you do for us, this aid is of  great importance for rugby in Bosnia since it is the only way we provide equipment for our clubs, as there is not a single shop in our country or region that sells or produces any kind of rugby equipment.”

General Secretary

Bosnian Rugby Federation. 

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KOSOVO

Kosovo Festival

The Kosovo Rugby Festival

“Your first delivery has been put to very good use with the establishment of children’s groups in four locations, our first ever children’s tournament with over 150 participants, our first men’s championship, and the women participating in tournaments in Bulgaria and Macedonia. Your support has been critical to our success.The SOS kit has been vital in supporting the Kosovo Rugby Federation in our first year. 

Rugby has come on in leaps and bounds in just twelve months. SOS Kit Aid has been central to making that happen. Some highlights include:

- Growth of the women’s game, with participation of Kosovo’s first women’s team, Balkan Lynx, in regional Sevens events. Lynx have relied on Kit Aid for training kit (else players would not be able to afford kit) and boots, and training balls. Almost all the Lynx are new to the game, and over 80% are from Kosovo. 

- Launching the first Kosovo Men’s Championship, with three teams. All of the teams have used SOS Kit Aid balls and shirts as training kit. Peja Eagles, currently top of the table, are using one of the complete team sets as their match kit, and all teams are using your shorts and socks! Over 90% of players are from Kosovo. I attach an article about the championship (in English), and the matches are being covered by Kosovo TV - you can see coverage on the Kosovo Rugby Federation page. https://prishtinainsight.com/kosovos-first-mens-rugby-championship-kicks-off/

- Founding four children’s clubs across Kosovo, with 150-200 kids weekly involved, again, over 90% from Kosovo.  The size three and four balls have been vital, and the t-shirts you sent will be used at our first tag tournament in May. Some of the spare kit has gone to the Fushe Kosovë Bobcats, who work in one of the most deprived communities in Kosovo, where families often lack the most basic of items (there is a picture of Bobcats with the SOS branded ball: we will send you pictures from our kids tournament with the teams in SOS Kit aid supplied shirts!)

We have also used some of the supporters kit, including mini balls and bags, as gifts for officials, helping us open the door to Government support. The Kosovo Prime Minister now has one in his office!

General Secretary

Kosovo Rugby Federation