Wigan full-back Matty Bowen has been given permission to travel to Serbia this weekend to promote their schools rugby league programme.
The project, which is part-funded by the Australian embassy in Belgrade, began on January 20 in primary schools in the capital, with the purpose of teaching children the basics of the sport.
Bowen, 33, will assist in a youth tournament to be held on Saturday at the FK Zemun Stadium, and is one of the biggest rugby league stars to visit the country.
SRLF vice president Nebojsa Sretenovic said: “This is a huge honour for Serbia Rugby League to welcome such a wonderful player and one of the most respected men in the sport, on and off the field.”
“His playing record at club and representative level is among the best and he is very active in the Australian Government’s campaign ‘Close the Gap’, which aims to increase the life of the Australia indigenous people.”
“Matt will be arriving with his wife and two children and will have a full schedule during this historic visit.
“As one of the initiators of it, the Australian Ambassador in Serbia, Julia Feeney, will be the main host for the Bowen family. It is scheduled for Matt to visit the headquarters of SRLF in Belgrade, he will have a couple of TV appearances, but the main event is the youth tournament.
“The programme currently involves about 200 boys and girls aged 10 to 14 years who were given the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the rugby league and then train for free, thanks to SRLF and with the support of Australian Embassy.”