Olympic Solidarity kicks off in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The Rugby Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina has created history by becoming the first IRB Member Union to benefit from Olympic Solidarity assistance since Rugby was welcomed back into the Olympic Games programme.

Olympic Solidarity is an IOC entity that supports National Olympic Committees in order that they can develop their own structures to provide the platform for the expansion of sport in their respective countries.

With Rugby Sevens set to debut at the 2016 Olympic Games and Rugby fast becoming a priority sport in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the World Programme element of Olympic Solidarity funding has been used to provide key technical and coaching structure support to the Union to underpin the significant recent growth in Rugby participation in the country.

Following an application to Olympic Solidarity from the Olympic Committee of Bosnia and Herzegovina and with the support of Bosnia and Herzegovina Rugby Union, the IRB and FIRA-AER, the IRB-accredited Level One Coaching Course was held at the end of August and delivered 20 new coaches to ensure best-practice coaching and coach education in the country.

Reflects positive impact of Olympic inclusion

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “This historic initiative reflects the truly positive impact that Olympic Games inclusion has had on the development and growth of Rugby worldwide.”

“It is fantastic that in the first year of the new 2013-2016 Olympic Solidarity quadrennial that IRB Member Unions are further engaging with and strengthening the relationships with their National Olympic Committees, who have also begun to apply for Olympic Solidarity support on behalf of the national Rugby federations.”

Douglas Langley, the IRB's Regional Development Manager in Europe, added: “We are delighted to see a strong partnership forged between the Bosnia and Herzegovina Rugby Union and its National Olympic Committee to jointly foster the continued growth of Rugby in the country through the investment of Olympic Solidarity in key programmes.”

The course was held in the town of Bihac and was attended by 15 male and five female delegates who will now share their new-found skills and knowledge with Rugby clubs in the towns of Derventa, Sarajevo, Tesani, Vitez and Zenica.

IRFU provided an IRB-licensed educator

Additionally, as part of their involvement in the IRB/FIRA-AER Training and Education Support scheme, the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) kindly provided the services of IRB-licensed educator Lyndon Jones to deliver the course, which included workshops on player welfare, ethics and athlete preparation.

From the range of programmes available, applications for coaching courses, team support grants and development of national sports structures support have all been made to help NOCs and their respective Unions grow the Game at the national level which in turn contributes to global growth.

Olympic Solidarity is an entity of the International Olympic Committee which provides financial assistance and administrative support for all the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and especially those with the greatest need, so that they can develop their own structures to favour the expansion of sport in their country.