By Robert Burgin, Date: 14/1/14
THE Guzman y Gomez Latin Heat has named its debut international squad, ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Philippine Airlines Tamaraws at Runaway Bay on the Gold Coast.
A composite side to give the 600 million people of Latin America a face in international rugby league, the side features players with ties to eight different Latino nations.
Of the 18-man squad named, 13 of the players were born on South or Central American soil, with the remaining five qualifying through close heritage ties.
“If you look into the background of these players, I have no doubt that each and every player is representing something dear to their heart,” coach Robert Burgin said.
“You have sons of people who have faced torture, imprisonment, civil war, relocation to the other side of the world and, in many cases, working the lowest paid jobs just to give their family a better future.
“We had a pretty forthright talk at training the other night and the players are determined to show that Latinos are capable of more than soccer and baseball.
“They want to be the pride of their community.”
While the Philippines go into the match as heavy favourites, being current holders of the Asia Cup and boasting several semi-professional players, the Heat will field an all-amateur squad.
Surprisingly the GYG Heat line-up does not contain any players from Argentinian or Brazilian backgrounds, despite the dominant role both nations play in Latin America.
“We have tried to engage both those communities and will work harder to achieve that, but in some ways it’s a positive for rugby league that we’ve succeeded in other areas first,” said Burgin.
“Who would have thought we would draw most of our players from Colombia, or that we would find talented league players from Nicaragua, El Salvador and Panama?
“Every week is a learning curve, both for the players involved and for us trying to spread the game back in Latin America.
“We’ve broken into the Chilean news the last fortnight, there’s a team starting up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the support we are receiving on social media has been excellent.”
Entry to Saturday’s match will be by gold coin donation only, with 100 per cent of proceeds split between the Typhoon Haiyan appeal and Amnesty International’s ongoing work in Latin America.
The Philippine Airlines Tamaraws, representing a country of almost 100 million people, announced their team here earlier today.
Kick-off in the clash will be 7pm, Saturday, January 18 at Runaway Bay’s Bycroft Oval on the Gold Coast, Morala Avenue.
GUZMAN Y GOMEZ LATIN HEAT RUGBY LEAGUE
1Carlos ASTORGA GONZALEZ(CHILE, Lives Ultimo NSW)
2Fernando VILLEGAS(COLOMBIA, Lives Annerley QLD)
3Luis GUILLERMO FHON(PERU, Lives Campbelltown NSW)
4Mayer FLAMENCO(PANAMA/EL SALVADOR/CHILE, Lives Hinchinbrook, NSW)
5Diego SANTIAGO GIL VEJERANO(COLOMBIA, Lives Kelvin Grove QLD)
6Daniel SARMIENTO(COLOMBIA, Lives Petrie QLD)
7Marco TULIO PEREIRA(EL SALVADOR/HONDURAS, Lives Tarragindi QLD)
8Sebastian MAYA JIMENEZ(COLOMBIA, Lives Spring Hill QLD)
9Jye SOMMERS(PERU, Lives Corrimal NSW)
10Jaden LAING(CHILE, Lives Campbelltown NSW)
11Jonathan ESPINOZA ©(NICARAGUA/CHILE, Lives Greenslopes QLD)
12Juan DAVID ESPINAL(COLOMBIA, Lives Wishart QLD)
13Josh GADEA HELLYER(URUGUAY, Lives Liverpool NSW)
14Diego LOPEZ PINTO(COLOMBIA, Lives Southbank QLD)
15Walter ORELLANA(EL SALVADOR, Lives Redbank QLD)
16Jose ORELLANA(EL SALVADOR, Lives Springfield Lakes QLD)
17Alex MORENO(COLOMBIA, Lives Petire QLD)
18Kristofer VIEIRA(URUGUAY, Lives Plumpton NSW)
Coach: Robert Burgin
Assistant Coaches: Ernie Tobar, Shane Atherton
LeagueSafe: Clint Dolan
Strapper: Jackson Hooper, Vince Travia
Doctor: Aida Vizcaya
Stats/Media: Matthew Brown