Ahead of today’s return from the off-season, the Guzman y Gomez Latin Heat is excited to announce the formation of an alliance with Manchester’s own Mancunians RLFC.
The link will allow the GYG Latin Heat to complete one of its foundation objectives – to identify a club where players of Latin American heritage in Europe can also go for coaching and development.
As an organisation with high aspirations of its own, Mancunians is located in one of Europe’s biggest cities, home to several universities, global corporations, serviced by a major international airport, and boasting a club culture that embraces diversity.
With Mancunians agreeing to welcome any interested Latino players, there are now rugby league teams in both hemispheres assisting the growth of the game for expatriate South and Central American communities.
Strategically the sides are located in Australia and England, the leading hotbeds on either side of the globe for rugby league coaching, corporate support and existing infrastructure.
“Research indicates that there may be as many as one million people of Latin American heritage living in the UK,” GYG Latin Heat director Robert Burgin said.
“That means one million Latinos with access to rugby league fields, goalposts, expert coaching and the ability to watch the sport on TV.
“I know it may seem strange for a team called the Latin Heat to focus at this early stage on Australia and England, but it’s wise to establish foundations where equipment and interest is already present.
“Once we have these footholds in place and an international identity, the express aim is to commence grassroots and regional competitions in South and Central America.”
A key to starting competitions in Latin America will be the identification of GYG Latin Heat ‘Embajadores’ (ambassadors) who can learn the finer points of the game before assisting to teach their fellow countrymen.
An announcement of several ‘Embajadores’ is expected to be made prior to the Heat’s appearance at the Cabramatta International Nines in Sydney on February 1.
Currently South and Central America, home to 600 million people, is the last remaining occupied continent where there are no opportunities for international rugby league.
“A big reason for this alliance with Mancunians is because we instantly recognised how genuine they were about spreading rugby league,” said Burgin.
“They want to take rugby league to another level in Manchester – a city that, like much of South America, is dominated by soccer.
“Mancunians chairman Stefan Hopewell informs me their present squad contains players from Iraqi, Indian, Pakistani, Israeli and Nigerian backgrounds, so they are accustomed to sourcing players from non-traditional league backgrounds.
“I think for our players, whether they be based in England, Australia or South America, Manchester is a desirable destination where there is plenty happening and opportunities galore.”