Everyone from backpackers to business executives and bowls club members will be able to contribute to the development of Rugby League in Latin America, thanks to a new deal brokered with GMA Tourism Services.
GMA Tourism Services last week committed to supporting Latin American Rugby League into the future, not only through an initial investment, but by allocating a percentage of future sales to the sport.
That means a trek to Machu Picchu, Carnival in Rio, or an important trans-Pacific meeting in Santiago can all help fund the spread of the Greatest Game of All across South and Central America.
Further to that, the same deal applies to destinations outside Latin America. Even a breathtaking river cruise in Europe will still see a portion of your fare contribute to expenses for Latino league teams.
Spearheading the new partnership is Mauricio Avila, director of GMA Tourism Services and Queensland director of the Chilean Chamber of Commerce.
Born in Chile but a proud resident of Australia for most of his life, Mr Avilla has been involved in all aspects of the tourism and travel industry for the past 35 years.
“As soon as I heard about rugby league taking off in Latin American communities, I wanted to find a way to be involved,” Mr Avila said.
“In November I travelled over to watch Chile win the first Latin American Championship in the sport and that only solidified my passion and belief.
“I’ve grown up loving rugby league and worked with both the Brisbane Broncos and Penrith Panthers in the past delivering travel and accommodation packages.
“Our core business is special interest groups and I’ve handled everything from football teams to religious group to bowls clubs to ballroom dancers.
“However we also cater for individuals, couples and families who may want a bespoke experience and we take pride in our personalised approach and taking the time to get things right.”
Providing appropriate travel insurance is another speciality of GMA Tourism Services.
Mr Avila said that any client who mentions Latin American Rugby League – or the popular name for the organisation, ‘Latin Heat’ – will be rest assured that funds are directed towards the non-profit grassroots movement.
Enquiries and bookings can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning 0423 443 994.
The Latin Heat has existed since 2013, a volunteer-run body that provides previously unavailable representative pathways for South and Central Americans in the sport of Rugby League.
Since the formation of Latin Heat, six nations – Chile, El Salvador, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil and Uruguay – have earnt an international federation ranking, while communities representing Mexico, Peru and Ecuador have also taken up the sport.
A large part of what Latin American Rugby League attempts to achieve happens beyond the football field, with the project intended to promote cultural appreciation, employment and education opportunities, health and fitness, travel and language.
At the recent Latin American Rugby League Championship in Los Angeles, Chile, volunteers handed out more than 100kg of donated balls, jerseys, boots, rugby league DVDs and refereeing equipment.
Latin America will be represented in a global Rugby League tournament for the first time this year, when Latin Heat contests a special regional pool of the 2018 Emerging Nations World Championship in Sydney.
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