Latvia, Estonia, Belarus of Baltic Sea League Holds First Football Camp

This past weekend five American football teams met in Riga, Latvia to participate in a football skills camp organised by the Latvian Federation of American Football appropriately named the “Baltic Sea League Football Camp 2015.”

Matt Kessinger, head coach of the Riga Lions since September of last year, laid out the plans for the camp and headed up the two day event. The Minsk Zubrs and Vitebsk Lynxes traveled from Belarus and the Tallinn Storm represented Estonia. There were also two teams participating from Riga; the Riga Lions and the Riga Lions Juniors.

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The main goals of the camp were to improve and bring Eastern European football to a higher level, provide an opportunity for coaches and players to network and exchange valuable experience, and last but not least improve the team relationships within the Baltic Sea League.

The first year of collaboration between the Latvian Federation of American Football (LFAF) and the Belorussian  Federation of American Football (BFAF) led to the creation of the Baltic Sea American football league which contains five teams from three nations.  Seven games have been played this season, but three deciding games are left prior to the semi-finals. This was the first Baltic Sea League international training camp, but there is a first time for everything.

Baltic - camp 3-3Kessinger and his team of coaches included lineman coach and sports physiotherapist Erik Voits, as well as veteran player Kristaps Balodis, who has worked with and played football since it was established as a sport in Latvia. Gordon Hicks who joined the Riga Lions in July from Texas, also helped with the camp. The coaching staff ran the home team and visiting players through drills and tests of their athletic prowess.

LFAF director of operations, Matiss Stabulnieks, was very happy with the camp and had this to say about American football in Latvia:

“We are very pleased to have assembled such a competent and knowledgeable training staff here in Riga, which shows that Latvia, in relation to American football, knows what to offer to other nations. When planning the training camp we tried to come with a plan that provides opportunities for teams and players that they are unable to gain in their home countries. The Riga Lions Juniors youth team also participated in the camp.”

The next American football game in Riga is scheduled for August 29th, when the Riga Lions will face off against the Vitebsk Lynxes from Belarus and in October the Baltic Sea League will hold its first annual all-star game in Riga, bringing together the best players from throughout the league.

Photos by Karlis Briedis: www.briedisk.com

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