By Seraj Essul.
Tripoli, 7 May 2014:
Libya’s fast-developing rugby scene is now attracting the support of commercial sponsors.
A specially formed Benghazi team has gained the backing of Libya Airlines. The national flag carrier is also supporting a Tripoli team, along with other companies in the capital.
This Friday, the Tripoli Stars team will fly to Turkey to take part in a two-day tournament from 9-10 May, the first international tournament that a Libyan team has competed in since the revolution. Men’s teams from Turkey, Lebanon, Kazakhstan and Libya will participate, as well as teams from Turkey and Egypt in the women’s matches. The Stars will play in three games on Saturday, and in two or three matches on Sunday. For this tournament, the Stars are sponsored by Dolphin Telecom, HB Group, Lacom Telecom and Libyan Airlines.
Meanwhile, an all-star team of players drawn from the four teams in Benghazi returned last Friday from a five-day trip to Tunis, fully-funded by Libyan Airlines, where they played a match against Tunisia’s Nabil team. According to Ahmad Makhlouf, captain of the Benghazi team, “Libya Airlines has generously promised to sponsor all future events for the Benghazi team this year.”
Rugby is fast growing in popularity in Libya, and there are currently four teams in Tripoli and four in Benghazi, and others are planned in Misrata. Funding has, until now been an issue. As Tripoli Stars team captain, Wael Al-Aradi, explained, “the most important thing right now is that we get sponsors because we need money to grow the sport”.
It has taken time to gain sponsors because of a wider unfamiliarity with the sport. But this is changing.
“We want to encourage a competative spirit among young people as well as ten development and team values,” said businessman Husni Bey, whose HB Group is the Gold Sponsor for the Tripoli team heading to Turkey. [/restrict]