Pierluigi Gentile, founder of Lega Italia, commented: “We are looking forward to our UK visit and thank BARA for making it happen. We hope to participate in another close, exciting game of Rugby League.”
Former England, Leeds and Featherstone Rugby League professional Ikram Butt who founded BARA 12 years ago commented: “We were treated like kings last year in Rome and again earlier this year as guests of Lega Italia when we discussed the White Ribbon Campaign and interfaith initiatives with the Pope at the Vatican.“We hope to return the compliment and provide a competitive match for the Italian squad who are representing a fast growing governing body that is becoming the standard bearer for the 13-a-side code.''
Dr Muhammad Asim MBE, who was part of the delegation to meet the Pope at the Vatican will host the Italians at the Award winning Makkah mosque, commented, ''During my visit to the Vatican, I talked to the Pope about using sports to connect with young people. BARA and Italian Rugby League both aspire to use the power of rugby to create safe, inclusive programmes for young people affected by poverty or conﬂict, and empower them. The community is, therefore, very much looking forward to hosting Italian Rugby League at Makkah mosque, and working together to inspire and empower young people of all backgrounds.''
“I'd like to put on record my thanks to Gary Hetherington from Leeds Rugby, Darren Williams from Hunslet Hawks and Leeds City Council leader Judith Blake, as well as all of the sponsors, for their support in making this tour a reality,” added Ikram.
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