A Fond Farewell to Richard Youatt!
01 / 10 / 2016
Supporters Club President leaving Latvia to move to Scotland
It is hard to imagine Riga United without Richard Youatt. The Supporters Club President has been the beating heart of the club at times over the past few years. Richard has been there week in, week out, on the sidelines cheering the Black Cats on, organising the club's award-winning match day entertainment (see the image above for a sense of how much he helped achieve!), travelling away from home to support United in far flung places like Daugavpils and Liepaja, working tirelessly behind the scenes on the board of the club, presenting awards evenings, writing literally hundreds of match reviews and reports, even assisting at times the Riga United Ladies Head Coach at away games ... the list goes on (and on).
Sadly, Richard is leaving the club this weekend to live in Scotland. RigaUnited.com grabbed a coffee wih Richard last week and asked him how he is feeling about leaving his beloved Black Cats...
How do you feel about the fact that you are leaving
Latvia and Riga United?
Wow, yes! Difficult one. I honestly have a whole bag of emotions right now. I have to stress that I am truly sad that I am leaving the country which has become my adopted home. I still would very much call it that. But I am excited on the other hand. I am going to Scotland with new skills and hopes that I wouldn’t have imagined before R.U. It’s very much a new chapter of my life so exciting times as well.
And as for leaving R.U, if Latvia is my adopted country, R.U has become my adopted family. Or ‘tribe’ as Justin called it the other day. This club has accepted me from my very first visit (2013 - 2-0 loss to Valka/Valmiera at home). So I am incredibly sad to be leaving but I still have two games to go (tonight’s match vs Monarhs-Flaminko and Saturday’s game vs Liepāja) so I am purposely not trying to think about it too much at the moment.
How would you reflect on your time with the club?
Emotional and possibly a pain in the arse. But the most rewarding and best experience I think I have had and will have for some time to come. As I said previously, I came here and was accepted almost immediately. By the third game I was starting to form the RUSG. There have been some highs and lows here (a lot more highs) but I would go through it all again if I could.
Being on the board for two years was tough. But it was was great to have a fan representative on the board. The second year was a lot tougher as due to other people’s own interests, we had to put a lot of effort in, in keeping this club together.
But creating presence for the club and helping generate support was amazing, also working with the people I have, has just been an invaluable experience.
What was your highlight or best memory during this time?
In no order, the crowd at the first game against Marienburg 2013 and the first ever cup game for the Ladies vs FK Liepāja in 2014. Having a hand in putting the statutes together for the club. Putting on my boots and playing the last 15mins in Smiltene for the reserves last year and being part of the move, which led to the equalising goal. Of course, starting up the RUSG and watching that grow, Finally, the ‘Liepāja trip’ with the Ladies’ team and Justin last year. One of the best memories I think. That day from the game against Liepāja to partying on the beach is something that’ll live long in the memory. As you see, I couldn’t have one outstanding memory.
Where do you see Riga United in one or five years time?
If the people stay true to the values of the club and commit. Far! This club is unique but is still young and it needs to be steered in the right direction. For the Ladies’ and the Men’s teams, I can’t see why they couldn’t be winning their respective leagues in about 2 years time. But I can’t stress how important it is that the club reaches out to the community in Riga and Latvia. The support is there and we are doing things other clubs aren’t, we just need to be more active in working alongside the community.
What is going to happen to the RUSG now that you won't be here to run the group?
Well, I hope it stays alive and well. In the club’s core values it talks about doing the best for the fans’ and community’s best interests. So, I hope it continues. I was at the AGM the other night and the new board spoke of a ‘match day team’, which I really like the sound of. I would really like to see people commit and just elevate the matchday experience and the support more.
Do you have a favourite player from your time at the club?
There are a few. But pound-for-pound, I’d have to say Kareem Gouglou and Ieva Bidermane. Kareem because he never seems to stop, he keeps going and has scored some spectacular goals. Very inspiring!
Ieva, not only a wonderful player but an amazing person! Everyone mostly knows her for brilliant passing on the field but off the field has done a lot for the club and probably epitomises the type of people this club needs.
What are your plans? When are we likely to see you back in Latvia visiting us all?
I am off to Scotland on 2nd October. I am moving to a very quiet village just north of Inverness, so mostly away from people! I have a couple of possible projects in the pipeline, so we will see how it develops. You’ll see me back in May more than likely. I’ll be here and make sure I come and visit you all again.
I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone at the club, past and present and to all the supporters. The dedication and time put in by people at the club is just incredible.