Latin Heat Rugby League is happy to welcome on board a ‘Gringo’, giving the team vital exposure into the foreign student and expatriate Latino market.
Formed of players of all Latin American heritages, the Heat squad is less than a fortnight away from making its debut at the Wests Mitchelton Nines tournament in Brisbane on September 21.
International rugby league’s newest team last week secured the support of Gringo Magazine, a publication catering for those interested in Latin American news and features.
The brainchild of Brazilian native and adopted Aussie entrepreneur Gerson Rocha, Gringo Magazine will enable the Latin Heat to attract new fans and players to the sport.
I have to admit that like most South Americans, my first passion is football â€“ soccer“ but since coming to Australia and seeing NRL on TV, I’ve started to admire rugby league, says Rocha.
I think what the Latin Heat organisers are trying to do in promoting diversity exposing Australians to Latino culture and giving Latinos a taste of Australian sports is fantastic.
Gringo Magazine and the Latin Heat team are both taking their first steps this year, but we share big goals for the future.
After launching earlier in 2013, Gringo Magazine is set to hit venues with its second edition on September 16, featuring Brazilian soap actor turned Aussie model Davi Oliveira on the cover.
The following edition will include a double-page spread on the Latin Heat, with advertisements in each subsequent edition to attract new players and supporters.
Aside from giving Latinos a pathway to international representation, our other primary focus is introducing new people to the sport of rugby league, team manager Rob Burgin said.
There are some players in our current squad who are exceptional footballers, right through to guys who only had a taste at high school and others brave enough to put up their hand for their first game.
It’s not easy to say you’re a Latino rugby league player and we’ve had our sceptics from the outset, but there is phenomenal camaraderie in the squad and a real sense of being pioneers of the sport.
Currently South America is the only occupied continent that does not have regular representation at an international level in rugby league.
There are advanced efforts to start domestic rugby league competitions in Brazil and Argentina, with other nations hopeful of following.
As it stands the Latin Heat squad has players from not only Chile, Brazil and Argentina, but also those from Colombia, Guyana, Uruguay and Costa Rica and is on the lookout for more talent.
The Heat has been actively recruiting at recent Latin American festivals and market days in Australia, welcoming interested newcomers to the game, along with those already boasting experience.
Beyond the Mitchelton Nines tournament, the Heat is targeting exhibition matches against other developing rugby league nations such as Thailand and Portugal.
The Heat has also received an invitation to participate in the prestigious and highly diverse Cabramatta Nines in Sydney next February.