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Rīga Stradiņš University (RSU) Vice-Rector for Administration and Development, Toms Baumanis (pictured), speaks about plans for a new sports complex in Torņakalns and other projects in an interview with the newspaper Diena. The complex would meet FIBA2 League requirements and is part of a larger ambition to develop the infrastructure for basketball, volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, and other sports at RSU. The full interview can be read in Diena (6 January), and is available to subscribers on


In a conversation with journalist Rolands Pētersons, Baumanis explains that RSU students’ interest in sports has grown significantly over the last 10 years. Taking this into account, the university plans to spend no less than 1% of its total budget on sports (which in 2022 will approximately be 700,000 EUR). There are plans to invest in sports infrastructure in Torņakalns, at 3 Cigoriņu iela, over the coming years by building a new basketball court that meets the requirements of the FIBA2 League. The court could also be used for volleyball, badminton, gymnastics, aerobics and other sports. RSU is currently mostly investing its own funds. The state contributes 5.69 EUR per year per student, explains the Vice-Rector. He goes on to say that he is hopeful for change as the National Development Plan highlights the need to support student sports in the country.

The Vice-Rector says that RSU students have a number of sports opportunities available to them already – both at the RSU Sports Club in Torņakalns, as well as in the renovated sports centre in Taurene, Vecpiebalga. RSU offers a wide range of activities – basketball, volleyball, badminton, functional training, fitness, pilates, and aesthetic gymnastics. ‘We also offer hockey as we renti an ice hockey rink. Swimming and athletics are also popular among students,’ says Baumanis.

‘The main idea underlying our investment in sports is the principle of “a sound mind in a sound body”. Seeing as we are a university specialising in health, it makes sense that we should invest in the availability of sports for our students and staff,’ explains the Vice-Rector.

Striving to improve

Baumanis estimates that the new sports complex would cost approximately 4.3 to 5 million EUR. ‘At the moment we have a basketball court that does not really meet international standards, because it does not have enough space behind the finish line. We will keep the current court and build the new complex that meets FIBA2 standards nearby. The new complex will have the space to host up to 500 spectators, the possibility to adapt the hall for other sports, enough space for changing rooms, rooms for trainers, a physiotherapist and a doctor, as well as a weight room, a gym, and so on. Both buildings will be connected into one complex. It is important to note that the new complex will be located next to Arkādijas parks and the stadium nearby, as this provides the opportunity to go for a run, or go Nordic walking,’ says the Vice-Rector.

rsu_sporta_centrs_cigorinu_iela.pngA plan of the future RSU sports complex at Cigoriņu iela

Supporting basketball is one of the university's priorities when it comes to sports. It has already been reported that the university became a farm team for the VEF Rīga basketball team, which took student basketball at RSU to a new level. ‘Since becoming a farm team, the RSU men's basketball team was renamed RSU VEF and currently ranks third in the Latvian National League (the Ramirent League). I would like to mention that our player Rihards Ginters was recently the best player in this league. Students have another team too and if someone demonstrates a certain skill level here they can join the RSU VEF team. Usually they play mixed games with teams of something like three RSU students and two VEF players.

In this way we hope to increase the capacity of men's basketball. Women's basketball at RSU has historically been stronger. We were even the best in the country a few years ago,’ says Baumanis.

The coach for the women's basketball team is Matīss Rožlapa, Head Coach of the U20 women's basketball team, and the coach for the men’s basketball team is Kristaps Zeids, who has international experience. The interview also highlights volleyball at RSU, which has historically been very strong. RSU volleyball players compete in the Optibet Baltic League, and have just finished 2nd in the Latvian Cup.

‘We hope that all these achievements will help attract new students. We see that student sports is very developed elsewhere in Europe and in the US, and is part of national sports in general.

If we want to be a modern and socially responsible university, we need to encourage development.’

Sports and academic success

Answering the question as to what extent semi-professional sports can be combined with high-quality studies, the Vice-Rector points out that

‘it has been scientifically proven that physical activity stimulates brain function, and sports therefore, in our view, contributes to students’ academic success.

By offering increasingly high-quality and ambitious opportunities for studies, we also have to think about what opportunities students have to engage in sports. Whether someone will choose professional sports or a career in academia is quite another matter. We are often surprised at how good our students’ academic accomplishments are while having been actively involved in sports at the same time.’

The list of RSU students’ sports achievements is very long. At least 117 RSU students are members of various Latvian national sports teams. A team from the university regularly participates in the Riga Marathon, for example. 500 students participated in 2019! And achieved great results too! ‘Jaakko Nieminen, a medical student from Finland, won the 10km race! Results like this highlight the athletic level of our students. In 2015, Alma Vītola, a physiotherapy student, won the 260km long Jungle Marathon in Brazil and competed in the 67km ultra-marathon around Mont Blanc several times.

Sports often gives people the motivation to succeed. People who do sports cannot be unsuccessful!’