Written by Stuart McLennan
The Greek side captained by former NRL and Super League player Michael Korkidas contained 13 domestic players in the squad of 17. One of the domestic pioneers was Panagiotis ‘Takas’ Karefilis. His family, including his nine year old brother Christos, watched on eagerly from the stands.
The home team were victorious, taking out the match and the Euro C title 68-16 against their Czech opponents. For Takas and his brother it proved to be a significant moment.
“I remember myself to be so nervous and excited at the same time,” Karefilis revealed to Chasing Kangaroos Media.
“This game means a lot to me because I won my first international title in front of my family and especially my little brother.
“You know as a person I have a weakness,and this is my little brother and to play an important game like this one and know that his eyes are on you the whole game, it gives you the power to do your best.”
For young Christos the experience was a new one and forged an interest in a sport that was a novelty in Greece.
“It was really exciting for me because it was a sport I hadn't ever watched before and I knew very little about it and seeing my brother participating in it made it even more exciting and fun to watch. And that got me intrigued to find more information about the sport,” Christos said.
For older brother Takas it was a two year experience living in Sydney, Australia that triggered his interest in the game of rugby league.
“I met rugby league at a young age (13) back in 2002 when I was In Australia for 2 years. I fell in love with the incredible tackles ,the contact, the hits, everything! So when I found out that we have rugby league in Greece I went directly to my first training and that’s how we got here.
Fast forward seven years and Takas is captain of one of the Greek Rugby League Association's newest clubs, Perama Tigers, while 16 year old Christos has left the the stands to join his older brother out on the field.
The team has played two nines matches recently against Attica Rhinos (6-48) and a narrow loss to Patras Panthers (16-24).
“Perama is a small village,” Takas explained.
When we created the team we didn't expect to play our first match this year. A lot of people came day after day to try this ‘strange sport’ and they liked it. So to be a Captain for this team, a team from my village, is a huge honor and responsibility.
“As I said before, Chris is my weakness, thinking about playing with him, out of the field we are family, but inside we are teammates, we support each other.
“What I like about him most is when I try to explain something he did wrong he answers me with a good tackle against the other team.”
For Christos, who managed to score Perama’s only try in their debut match against Attica Rhinos, the thrill of seeing his brother play for the national team seven years prior played a big part in inspiring him to lace up the boots for his local team.
“I wanted to try it out since I saw my brother participate in it because he has always been my idol and everything he would do I wanted to do as well.
“So far it has been really fun and exciting playing for Perama, and having my brother as a teammate next to me makes it even greater, and I'm looking forward to our future matches together.”
Greece vs Czech Republic 2014
Greece 68 (Meads 6, Korkidas, Syti, Kanellopoulos, Arfaras, Sell, N.Bosmos tries; Kentrotis 7, Meads 2 Bosmos goals)
Czech Republic 16 (Sedina, Kristof, Cadlavka tries; Kucera 2 goals)
Giorigini Syti, Panagiotis Lampousis, Ioannis Vallasas, Nick Kanellopoulos, Alvara Zota, Nikolaos Bosmos, Jordan Meads, Stefanos Bastas, Liam Sue-Tin Kentrotis, Michael Korkidas (c), Sebastian Sell, Neofytas Christos, Ioannis Roussoglou, Emmanouil Katalaktakis, Ioannis Nake, Panteleimon Arfaras, Panagiotis Karefilis
Coach: Steve Georgallis
Otto Friedl, Filip Spacek, Jaroslav Bzoch, Patrik Koliska, Vit Caslavka, Michal Kucera, Ladislav Cintler, Antonin Berk, Petr Sedina, Adam Petzrela, Vaclac Fischer, Tomas Kristof, Pavel Zemanek, Tomas Ricica, Milan Pesout, Pavel Kubasta, Lukas Kristof
Coach: David Lahr