The second team, making its Baltic Handball League debut this season, is SK Latgols Ludza from Latvia. Just like the other newcomer, SK Tapa, the two-time Latvian champion is known for producing star players, but will now measure themselves against the best teams in the region for the first time.
SK Latgols was founded already in 1995 and thus celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. In 2003 a new team on the basis of the local Police Sports Club was formed. Already in 2006 Latgols reached the final of Latvian Cup, but real success came few years later. In two consecutive seasons – 2011/12 and 2012/13 – Latgols was crowned as Latvian champions.
“In the last three seasons we have finished with bronze-medals in the league behind ZRHK Tenax Dobele and Celtnieks Riga, plus reached the cup final again in 2017. We have planned of taking part in the Baltic Handball League for many years, but financially it would have been too difficult,” said Stanislavs Narnickis, Latgols’ Chairman of the Board.
“Now we have joined the BHL family, as only the teams from Baltic States are taking part. Geographically we are in a good position, as travelling to Kaunas, Vilnius or Põlva is basically the same as to go for matches in Riga,” explained Narnickis the location of Ludza in Eastern Latvia, some 30 kilometres from Russian border.
Ludza has been producing talented handballers for many years and the name Dainis Krištopans alone speaks volumes. Also players like Aivis Jurdžs, Austris Tuminskis and Janis Pavlovičs have all made a great career in clubs around Europe. From new generation Guntis Pilpuks, Arturs Meikšans, Raivis Gorbunovs and Endijs Kušners have recently moved abroad.
“In Latvian national team we have about six players originally from Ludza and many more in the youth national sides. So we have quite a young team for the new season and we need to build it up. Probably we will not play for top places, but participation in BHL is very important for the development of youngsters,” commented Narnickis.
Latgols will start the season without one of their key players, as international left back Normunds Senkans is still recovering from injury. While a young team, Latgols also have some BHL-winning experience, as 39-year-old line player Agris Kušners won the competition with ASK/AB.LV Riga back in 2003 and 2007.
“Our next goal is to form a handball academy in our region. We have good conditions with two sports halls, physical preparation centre, so we look forward to build that up. BHL matches will definitely help us to turn this project into reality,” shared Narnickis a glimpse of SK Latgols’ future plans.
SK Latgols Ludza
Best domestic results: Latvian champion 2011/12 and 2012/13
Best European results: not participated
Best results in BHL: making a debut
Head coach: Andrejs Narnickis
Key players: Normunds Senkans, Elvijs Kušners, Edgars Rancans
Opening match in BHL: 05/09/2020 ZRHK Tenax Dobele – SK Latgols Ludza
On photo: SK Latgols Ludza is preparing for their debut season in BHL. (Photo: SK Latgols).