LATIN American Rugby League has unveiled its strategic plan for the next 12 months, with off-field advancements deemed just as vital as on-field performance.
Following a 300 per cent growth in GYG Latin Heat player numbers from January 2014 to January 2015, the onus is to plan a sustainable path to the ultimate goal – participation by a South or Central American nation in a future Rugby League World Cup.
To do so the Latin American Rugby League must meet its obligations on several fronts:
- Administratively (to feature in World Cup qualifiers, nations must meet RLIF criteria)
- Culturally & Socially
At present the GYG Latin Heat fields three Australian-based sides under one banner – an elite International Squad, a Development Squad and a Youth Squad – representing heritage from 24 combined nations and blazing a trail for 700 million Latinos worldwide.
The GYG Heat has directly helped to create stand-alone identities for Chile and El Salvador, while also encouraging and aiding Mexico and Brazil’s fledgling domestic competitions.
The rapid growth has seen the 100% volunteer-run Latin American Rugby League requiring a AU$25,000 budget annually – with uniforms, insurance, accommodation and travel the predominant expenses.
Despite much appreciated financial backing by Guzman y Gomez Taquerias, S.H.I.E.L.D Security and Brisbane City Council for the 2014-15 representative period, only approximately one-third of the budget is reached through sponsorship.
The vast remainder has come from both committee member and player contributions, with no financial support from any existing rugby league or federal government body.
The last 12 months saw Latin America as one of the most active teams on the international rugby league calendar, playing the following nations in some form of the game, plus many local teams:
- American Samoa
- Italy Country (Youth Game)
The focus for the coming months will now fall on the following 10-point plan:
- Securing grants to recognise the role Latin American Rugby League plays in providing a positive social outlet, providing awareness of Latino-Australian relationships, and providing global awareness of rugby league.
- Building our stable of sponsors and community partners to not only achieve sustainability, but also room for further future growth.
- Heavily focus on encouraging and advising the formation of domestic leagues in South and Central American nations and international matches on Latin American soil. Discussions and committee formation have already progressed.
- Developing non-contact rugby league experiences for Latinos visiting or living in the South Pacific region, including Latin Heat–branded tag or touch teams competing regularly in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, plus group outings to NRL and State League games, as well as representation at Latin American cultural events and festivals.
- Producing the laws of the game in languages and simplified terms that can be understood throughout South and Central America. Similarly producing coaching materials.
- Producing promotional videos, infographics and other publicity materials that attractively present rugby league to Latino audiences and encourage participation.
- Developing the ‘Los Bomberos’ official supporter group concept to encourage attendance and contribution by those unable to play.
- Improve team-generated funding avenues, including further promotion of the Latin Heat Online Shop (latinheatrl.com) and encouraging third-party selling via the Shop.
- Co-ordinated player identification procedures, including enhanced relationships with the NRL and RFL to discover all existing registered players of Latino heritage.
- Exploring models for scholarships that assist Latino players to come to Australia for advanced training. Desire to make this a corporately-branded competitive process.
While the above 10 points are the primary achievable goals for Latin American Rugby League, there is also genuine desire to pursue the following landmark ambition with further investigation of its viability:
- Co-ordinating a historic tour of Latin America (10-14 days) by a squad of experienced rugby league players, with the express aim to hold development clinics and provide opposition and knowledge to Latino teams. Possible options include a northern route of Los Angeles-Mexico-Colombia or a southern route of Chile-Argentina-Brazil. Touring squad would preferably contain at least 50% of players able to speak Spanish or Portuguese, but could come from any nation.
In conjuction with the stability needed to achieve the aforementioned goals, head coach Gabriel Keegan (Argentina) will again take control of the International GYG Heat Squad, while co-captain Jye Sommers-Ortega (Peru) will step up to become an official assistant coach.
Development Squad coaching will again be shared between Daniel Sarmiento (Colombia) and Luis Guillermo Fhon (Peru), while Steve Anson (Australia) continues to add his considerable experience to the Youth Squad.
Proposed on-field events for the Australian GYG Latin Heat contingent going forward are:
+ APRIL – Formation of Latino touch/tag teams for Sydney and Brisbane, possibly Melbourne.
+ REDFERN NINES (Under 18s) – Date TBA
+ HARMONY CUP (Under 16s) – Date TBA
+ OCTOBER 3 – GYG Latin Heat fixture v Emerging Nation (TBA). Curtain-raiser 1: Colombia v El Salvador. Curtain-raiser 2: Latin Heat Youth Squad v Emerging Nation (TBA). Venue: Sydney.
+ OCTOBER 10 – GYG Latin Heat fixture v Emerging Nation (TBA). Curtain-raiser 1: Colombia v El Salvador. Curtain-raiser 2: Latin Heat Youth Squad v Emerging Nation (TBA). Venue: Sydney.
+ OCTOBER/NOVEMBER – Possible pioneer tour to Latin America.
+ JANUARY 16 (2016) – GYG Latin Heat fixture v Emerging Nation (TBA). Curtain-raiser 1: Latino Nation A v Latino Nation B. Curtain-raiser 2: Latin Heat Youth Squad v Emerging Nation (TBA). Venue: Sydney or Canberra .
Matches between South and Central American nations, held in Latin America, are planned for the next 12 months but will remain confidential for the present time.
Again Latin American Rugby League would like to acknowledge ongoing financial supporters Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, S.H.I.E.L.D Security and Brisbane City Council, along with community partners Normanby Hotel, Rumba Latina Entertainment, Chimi.com.au Gourmet Sauces, Link Australia Student Service Centres, Gringo Media, Fighting for Fitness Gym and the Rugby League International Federation.
President, Latin American Rugby League Inc.