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“BRALIUKAI”: WE WANT TO CREATE LOVE AROUND VEF

Twin brothers Normunds and Nauris Macius specially for VEF Riga.

How you came up with idea to become VEF fans?

Normunds: Supporting VEF Riga was our own initiative. It all started when my brother called Arnis Vecvagars, who is basketball coach, father of VEF player Kaspars Vecvagars and asked about possibility to attend VEF games. Afterwards Arnis hooked us with VEF Riga board member Ivars Berzins and that’s how it started. We really like the way VEF Riga is built this season. It is important that team have such Latvian players as Janis Blums, Armands Skele, Martins Meiers and also Lithuanian Arnas Labuckas. All these factors make this team very attractive to us. Also, fact that we live in Riga played some role as it is important for us to support team of our local city, especially when it is built so nicely.

How important to you is VEF brand?

Nauris: VEF brand is very motivating factor to support this team. We really like VEF logo, its history. I remember when back in the day VEF was always very competitive team in Soviet Union championship. Even though all the best players were in CSKA Moscow, VEF was different as it went different route – it was patriotic club, similar to Zalgiris Kaunas.

Regarding brands, we can’t understand how it was possible to delete such famous basketball name as ASK?! VEF did not let it happen and thanks to (current VEF Riga president) Edgars Jaunups for it. If he would go away, there would be nothing – that’s what I think. After all, it is good that Riga has only one big club (VEF), because then there is united goal. Also, if team would have different name than VEF, then maybe there would not be so big desire to support it. VEF is patriotic club, related to factory and from the beginning it was united to Latvia, making it very strong brand.

Normunds: Also, have to say that VEF team has featured several huge talents like brothers Igors and Raimonds Miglinieks, Gundars Vetra, Ainars Bagatskis, who loves VEF and is head coach of Latvian National Team. Also, it is important that Lithuanians have been in VEF like coaches Rimas Kurtinaitis and Ramunas Butautas as well as players like Donatas Zavackas and Antanas Kavaliauskas. By the way, regarding Lithuanians and VEF, in the future our dream is to see in VEF Riga roster our friends, brothers Kšyštof and Darjuš Lavrinovič. Of course, together with players that have created VEF brand, we definitely have to mention Valdis Valters who gave very big contribution in creating VEF name in basketball.

Nauris: Regarding Valdis Valters and VEF, we have to add that he is person with different character and sometimes may say something, but we are sure that in the heart he loves VEF and wishes it the best. Definitely, VEF have strong history and it is continuing.

How you see the model how VEF would be supported?

Nauris:We will support VEF as a fan group. We hope to attract people and by the spring increase number of supporters to 100-200 people. At the beginning number will not be so big, but already the interest is high. For me and my brother it will be interesting to see how big love for basketball is in Latvia. It is like that everywhere in the world people that show us attention –it could be either Olympic Games in Brazil, NBA games in Toronto or basketball game in Italy. People come to us and gather around us. We will see how it turns out here, because there is big difference in basketball supporting in Lithuania and Latvia.

Normunds: I think people will come to support VEF because it has good roster. Last year team had a lot of foreigners, now it has more Latvians. We are from Riga, we have lived here majority of our lives and that’s why we really want to support VEF. We will gather around us people that really love basketball.

Nauris: One more thing about fans – more wins, the bigger interest will be from people. VEF already is one of the most recognizable brands in Latvia and we will do everything to popularize basketball. We are big patriots of Lithuania and Latvia, we are Balts and braliukai, and we consider VEF as a Latvian symbol just like Zalgiris is Lithuanian symbol. I have feeling inside that everything will be good.

Normunds: Together with my brother we came to win. As we laugh – it is tradition that everywhere we go, there are always wins. : ) Therefore, we are sure that this season VEF will win Latvian championship!

You are very enthusiastic basketball fans.

Nauris: Yes, in basketball we are always rooting for Latvia and Lithuania. Some people may ask – why VEF? Why Zalgiris? We can say that we support multiple teams – in Lithuania we are rooting for Zalgiris, Lietuvos Rytas, Lietkabelis, Neptunas and others, but in Latvia our team is VEF Riga. We also support Lithuanian players that play in Latvia. In general we are not strictly attached to one club. We participate and support different level of basketball. By the way, hockey people from Dinamo Riga also talked with us, but we stayed loyal to basketball, because it is our game.  

Basketball is also our life. Recently we met VEF Riga president Edgars Jaunups and we felt that he has similar energy, because he gives everything to basketball and VEF. If there would not be VEF, Riga would have nothing of highest level basketball.

Normunds: As we mentioned, it is important what kind of players are in the team. Janis Blums is super person, real patriot. For as, Latvia’s Lithuanians, it is important that team has also one Lithuanian, because we think all Baltic people should stick together. Maybe only one Estonian is missing. : )

How do you look about Latvian players playing in VEF?

Nauris: For every Lithuanian it is honor to play in Zalgiris, that’s why it should be the same for Latvians playing for VEF. Those are two identic things: in Lithuania Zalgiris and in Latvia – VEF Riga. Both are superclubs in their own country. That’s why we think Latvians should really want to play for VEF. Everyone who has gone through VEF school, should stand for their club. If there would not be VEF, where they would be? It should be a dream to play for VEF. Of course, there is financial aspect, but that’s why Riga City Council could start supporting VEF.

Normunds: That’s right, because it is cool that teams have their own players, but sometimes it is difficult to keep them because of finances. For example, in Zalgiris in 1999, when it won Euroleague, it was difficult to keep our friend Saulius Stombergas. But it is strange that in case of VEF Riga local City Council is not giving any money. Kaunas, which is two times smaller than Riga, gives Zalgiris two millions euros. Klaipeda gives 700 thousands to its Neptunas club.

Nauris: Previously I thought that Riga’s City Council gives money to basketball, because in Lithuania it is normal thing. After all, VEF is part of Riga’s culture and that’s why Riga City Council should give money to VEF Riga basketball club. If there will be fight and discussion about such need, then City Council simply can’t refuse to give money. Because there are ways where City Council is wasting money, but it should help to sports because people from city come to games, including youth. We will fight together for this idea! : )

What gives biggest enjoyment from basketball?

Nauris: When somebody meets us, they understand how much we love this game. In basketball I like wins, good games and fan energy. When you come to game and you can get lost. I can definitely relate it to Lithuanian National Team, because in its games I can simply get lost. Also in VEF I would like to enjoy such feeling when time stops. At the same time I don’t like when there is not enough fight and there is some counting about what final score would be better. We want to see team fighting. Great example of fighter in current VEF team is Janis Blums. He is similar to one of our friends Rimantas Kaukenas – both give everything to court. Comparison could be made – what Janis has given to Latvia, Rimas has given to Lithuania. Such fighters are very important. When team is fighting, fans are feeling that as well.

Talking about ways to get full enjoyment from basketball, we also have some principles. For example, first thing is that we say no to alcohol, because we don’t want aggression. We want to see kids and youth in general coming to our games. That’s why we are organizing events for children. We have planned a lot of activities. We both grew up in boarding school, so our life hasn’t been easy. We are always for justice and we are fighters. We fight for everything, also in context of fans.  If fans and players feel each other, than this positive contact will come together and there will be a lot of wins. We should do it together.

Normunds: We want to create love around VEF. So the people who come to games would not be angry, but happy. Me and my brother, we are different, because we are standing for love. There is example when we visited our friends, brothers Lavrinovics and Rimantas Kaukenas in Italy, they started playing better because they felt that they were supported and that’s why they gave more to the game. We also want to make it happen with VEF team, so the team can feel that it is supported. We will start slowly and will see how it goes!

 

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