HE’S a former US serviceman who is part Native American Indian, part Mexican, part Spanish and is a Level 2 Rugby League coach in England.
And he’s about to undertake a call of duty like no other.
Juan Jasso has been announced as the first coach of Latin Heat North America – an offshoot of a global movement to provide Latinos a greater presence in Rugby League.
The squad will make its debut at the USARL Nines in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania on Saturday, May 21 – comprised of players with heritage in more than 20 Central and South American nations.
“This team and event brings together many passions for me.”
Latin Heat North America looks to tap into the 55 million people of Latino heritage living in the USA and 500,000-plus in Canada, while also providing further opportunities for those in neighbouring Mexico Rugby League.
Some of the other heritages represented by the team will include Peruvian, Salvadoreno, Haitian, Puerto Rican and Chilean.
It’s a reconnection with his roots that Jasso gladly welcomes.
“I grew up on the border of Mexico and USA in Brownsville, Texas,” Jasso explains.
“My father’s side is from San Luis Potosi and Linares in Mexico, while my mother is from Spain.
“Back further than that, we have found my father’s DNA is 55 per cent Native Indian, but we are unsure of the exact origin.”
Juan’s eclectic heritage was matched by his upbringing, where the family would often relocate due to his father’s service in the US Air Force.
When he was old enough, Juan decided on a period of military service himself, enlisting for seven years with the US Army.
He was posted to England, where he has since married and had a daughter, as well as discovering a burning passion for Rugby League.
“I attended Leeds Metropolitan University, which has a very strong record in the sport,” says Jasso.
“After playing there and completing my Bachelor of Science I became involved with the London Broncos as a Scholarship Coach and with other sports teams as a strength and conditioning coach.
“I’m presently studying my Masters of Science in Strength and Conditioning.”
He is an Associate Lecturer to Manchester Metropolitan University and the University of Salford in various sports disciplines.
In Australia, the GYG Latin Heat has competed for the past three years, combining players who were both born or descended from those in South and Central America.
The Aussie-based Heat recently recorded a 54-16 win over the Thailand Stars, and faced American Samoa, Greece and Serbia at the 2016 International Nines.
The USARL Nines on May 21 will feature club teams from across the USARL, along with international sides such as Jamaica, West Papua and Canada.
Latin Heat Australia continues to seek a new head coach after Argentinian Gabriel Keegan stood down this week due to family health matters.
The efforts of Latin Heat Rugby League are supported by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, S.H.I.E.L.D Security, Tattoo Tears, OneBigSwitch.com.au, Jani-King Cleaning, SeriousAboutRL.com, Rugby League Team Manager 2015 computer game, Lichtnauer and Associates Accountants, Cabramatta Ink and Majestic Property Maintenance, and Darkside Studio Photography.