As one of rugby league’s fastest growing nations, Albania are using the current Covid-19 suspension as a chance to focus on recruitment for their national team, while also developing a plan to expand the sport in the country.
Despite not being a typical RL hotbed, the country has produced two Super League players to date, with seasoned forward Olsi Krasniqi and ex-London Broncos prop Erjon Dollapi hailing from the regions of Tirana and Tropoje respectively.
They are now looking to recruit players with Albanian links in order to strengthen the national team and grow the profile of the sport throughout the country.
National team head coach Peter Grayburn, who is also currently the Education and Welfare Officer at Hull KR, has been working with Albania Rugby League for around a year in the aim of promoting and developing the sport at a national level.
“The amount of commitment and dedication shown by both players and staff is extremely encouraging and indicates the future for Rugby League is promising in Albania,” he said. “The staff is currently working on player recruitment and retention for the national squad, along with arranging several training events around Europe.
“Additionally to this, the Albanian Rugby Federation is working tirelessly to develop and enhance Rugby League within Albania. Despite the unforeseen circumstances we find ourselves in, I remain immensely excited about what the future holds.”
In their most recent newsletter, the Albanian Rugby Federation also outlined an encouraging plan for the future, including professional training camps around Europe run by Grayburn and assistant coach Peter Finch and the goal of competing in European championships.
Meanwhile, three young homegrown players from the local K.R. Tirana club are set to travel to the UK on an exchange programme which will see them receive first-class coaching and play in the amateur divisions.
On the developments, former national captain and current Albania RL secretary Dejvi Dashi added: “We want to achieve something special here in Albania within Rugby League. What has been done so far is a result of a lot of hard work over the years.
“Our focus is to include as many people as possible. We want Albanians to be proud of their representation in Rugby League.”
To find out more about eligibility for the Albanian National Team, click HERE.