It’s been just over 24 hours since it was announced that Red Star Belgrade have applied to the RFL to be included in the 2019 Challenge Cup.
I’ve been reading the different forums regarding this announcement and hearing the opinions of different people for and against the inclusion of Red Star Belgrade.
One comment I read indicated that, Red Star Belgrade, were drug cheats because they are from Eastern Europe and need to be drug tested before competing. I was quite offended by that comment because during my time as coach of Red Star Belgrade none of the players were taking performance enhancing drugs and I’m still very positive they arent taking anything while I’m writing this article.
Moving on, my reasons for including Red Star Belgrade are, they have a great owner in Colin Kleyweg who isn’t about having the Red Star brand plagued with ex nrl or super league players unlike recent additions Toronto Wolfpack. Colin is about using local talent from Belgrade and developing the game in Serbia and giving these players the best opportunity to better themselves.
Red Star Belgrade has a new coach starting very soon in ex NRL coach Phil Economidis to take them into the second half of the season and beyond, after I announced my departure due to health reasons, and I wish Phil all the best.
Things off the field seem to be well and going in the right direction so lets talk about what’s happening on the field for Red Star Belgrade.
The club has had it’s best start to a season since they began back in 2006. The team is currently undefeated in the Serbian League and have dominated their opposition, they also finished on top of the Balkan Super League after the group stages, with 2 very dominant victories one being against the Greek champions Rhode Knights.
Another thing that is working well for Red Star Belgrade is it’s junior development program for boys and girls of Belgrade. The under 18s won the Belgrade 9s and won the National under 18 championship for the first time in the clubs history.
The junior girls played in a competition recently in Turkey and did well for their first time out.
By allowing Red Star Belgrade to play in the Challenge Cup it will encourage other teams in the Balkan region to lift their game and to achieve for higher honours and hopefully one day we will see a fully fledged professional competition throughout Europe and not just along the m62 corridor in the UK and the East Coast of Australia.