From orphanage to captain of his country

From orphanage to captain of his country

A boy who was given up for adoption in Bogota 38 years ago has told of his immense pride at being named to captain his country in a historic Tri Nations tournament in Brasil.

Alex Eastman is not a name you would expect for the leader of Colombia’s national rugby league side.

That’s because his real birth name was Ernesto Lamprea.

He has never known or been able to locate his birth parents.

Yet, he does not feel that he has been hard-done-by in life either.

“I actually know I’ve had a very privileged, lucky life,” Eastman says.

“It’s been kind of like winning the lottery to be honest.”

Eastman takes that viewpoint not only from being adopted by Australian parents and raised in Sydney’s affluent eastern suburbs, where he attended one of the top private schools in the country, Scots College.

He also takes that tack because he has since returned to Colombia, visiting the exact same orphanage where he was given up for adoption all the way back in 1980.

“That trip really put things in perspective…about how hard some other people in the world have it,” says Eastman, who recently became a father for the first time.

“There’s a lot of people in the world in a very different situation to what we enjoy in Australia.

“It’s a lot tougher existence for people in most places in the world.”

If you didn’t know Eastman’s background story, it would be almost impossible to guess.

His upbringing has given him a distinct Aussie accent, and his tanned skin and appearance blend in with so many others you find surfing up and down the nation’s beaches.

Indeed, he is an eager surfer, and grew up enjoying cricket and both rugby codes.

Eastman has also owned and run CrossFit Chatswood for seven years and it’s a big factor why he is in such great physical condition ­as he approaches 40.

“I really enjoy being able to help other people,” he says.

“As someone who has always loved and enjoyed being physically active, I want to see other people healthy and enjoying life too.”

That same mindset has played a big factor in him agreeing to captain Colombia as they take on host Brasil and challengers Argentina in a three-way showdown in Sao Paulo on November 24-25.

It will be the first time he has worn Colombian colours, only finding out about the pathway for Latinos through a friend.

Yet as a former A grade player with proud Sydney club Asquith Magpies, he has the type of experience Latin American nations are crying out for.

The fact that he is a life-long halfback and intricately understands the role of strategy and game plans only enhances his value.

“Being towards the end of my career, I do want to give something back to the sport – and what better way than assisting Colombia?” he says.

“Latinos like to play sport with exuberance and flair, so they won’t be afraid to chance their arm.

“I just hope to be able to assist some of the guys with a few pointers and to help with game management.

“I’m not quite sure what level to expect, but my role will be to give the attack some structure.

“I’m really looking forward to the experience, meeting new people, and giving back to rugby league.”

Only one of the players which lost 48-10 to El Salvador recently in Brisbane will represent Colombia in Brasil – powerhouse forward Juan David Espinal.

Instead the make-up of the Condores team is more likely to reflect that which beat Brasil 22-18 in a thriller of a game in Chile last November.

However, all competing nations are expected to be significantly stronger than they were 12 months ago.

The only two players travelling from Australia to play in this year’s tournament were both born in Latin America.

Chile will be absent from the tournament due to commitments with the 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualifiers in Florida, USA.

Daniel Rickard, another Colombian rugby league representative who was adopted as a baby, was reunited with his mother two years ago after his Condores teammates were able to use trace his family history and put them in touch.

 

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