Raimonds Elbakjans, former Latvian basketball player and the visionary behind the youth culture and street sports initiative Ghetto Games, will delve into the boundless possibilities presented by street sports during an exclusive presentation at the upcoming SBC Summit Tbilisi.
The summit is scheduled to take place at the Sheraton Grand Tbilisi Metechi Palace, Georgia, between 23 -24 October. Elbakjans’ presentation on ‘The Untapped Potential in Street Sports’ will be a highlight of the Innovation Stage conference track, taking place on the main day of the premier iGaming and sports betting conference for Georgia and its neighbouring regions, including Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Balkans.
With global inflation on the rise and financial obstacles insurmountable for those situated in socially disadvantaged regions, the world of sports is becoming increasingly guarded by financial and social barriers. Youth and street sports organisations like Ghetto Games are stepping up to confront this social disparity head-on by offering individuals from troubled and disadvantaged backgrounds the chance to engage in a diverse array of sports activities.
Amidst the ongoing global economic turmoil and the rising popularity of street sports,
this presentation aims to address the opportunities that street sports present to betting operators. It will also examine the needs of youth movements, aiming to pave the way for mutually beneficial partnerships.
Raimonds Elbakjans said: "When examining societal challenges, especially in underprivileged areas, we find that municipalities and taxpayers are currently bearing the brunt. Many municipalities lack the means to address these issues effectively. If service providers genuinely embraced their responsibilities and invested significantly in the community, their contributions would go beyond mere advertisements. Such involvement would greatly benefit the youth and the wider community. If young individuals are adversely affected by services like sports betting, they might seek other addictive outlets. There's an opportunity here for profound societal benefit by building real-world infrastructures and funding initiatives that engage the youth in sports today."
Elbakjans first found fame as a professional Latvian basketball player. Embarking on his journey in sports at the young age of 8, playing basketball for Riga’s youth sports school team ‘Ridzene’, Elbakjans made a pivotal move to BK Ventspils in 2003. Additionally, during this time, Elbakjans would reach a career-high playing for Latvia's Men's National Under 18 team, before retiring in 2005 due to unforeseen health conditions.
In 2009, In the midst of the global financial crash, the former basketball player founded Ghetto Games. The organisation was born in an effort to harness the power of sports as a means to support young individuals residing in Riga’s most socially disadvantaged districts. Ghetto Games serves as a transformative platform, enabling individuals to express their individuality by playing football, basketball, floorball and more, whilst also fostering their physical and moral development.
Throughout his tenure at Ghetto Games, Elbakjans has been the driving force behind the transformation of street sports. Under his leadership, it has thrived, boasting prosperous European tournaments, forging partnerships with some of the world's most recognisable football leagues, such as La Liga, and expanded its operations across four continents and 25 countries.
Rasmus Sojmark, CEO and founder of SBC said: "Raimonds Elbakjans' outstanding accomplishments, not only in the realm of sports but also in his impactful work with Ghetto Games and its positive influence on youth, are truly remarkable. He exemplifies the dual role of an athlete and an innovator in every sense. His speech promises to be a must-watch for those interested in harnessing the possibilities presented by street sports and their potential impact on the sports betting industry.”