ON the same week that competitive rugby league begins in Mexico, a new head coach has been appointed to the Australian-based GYG Latin Heat
Argentinian Gabriel Keegan will take the reins of the Heat, a rugby league team representing players with heritage in 24 Latin American nations.
Having been a rugby league coach for the past 10 years, Keegan will replace Chile’s Ernie Tobar in the role, with Tobar stepping aside due to work and family commitments.
Keegan, 46, currently coaches junior football at Wentworthville in Sydney’s west, is a lifelong follower of NRL club Canterbury Bulldogs and has senior experience coaching in the Parramatta system.
The GYG Latin Heat hopes to soon confirm two senior international-rules matches for September and October against new opposition.
To date, the Heat has played Thailand and the Philippines in 17-a-side rugby league, and faced Greece, Portugal, Japan and the Philippines in 9-a-side matches, providing a previously non-existent pathway to international football for South and Central Americans.
The Heat also aims to participate in the Redfern Nines (Under 18s) on September 20 and the Harmony Cup on October 11 (Under 16s), as well as the open-age Mitchelton Nines in Brisbane, also October 11.
The coming months will be the first time the GYG Latin Heat has fielded junior sides and this follows exciting advents for the sport in Latin American communities around the world.
Tomorrow, Saturday August 2, a rugby league nines tournament will be held in Mexico City, with at least four teams to contest the inaugural Copa Mexico.
Largely due to the hard work of Mexican brothers Carlos and Ruben Munguia, the tournament follows small development clinics held in both Mexico and Brazil by GYG Latin Heat personnel in recent months.
Elsewhere, Chile is just a handful of players away from being strong enough to field a stand-alone 17-a-side international team, while correspondence continues to grow with those in Colombia, Argentina, Uruguay, Belize and El Salvador in particular.
Squad training for Australian-based Latinos of all ages for upcoming Latin Heat games will commence on the following:
• NSW-based: Friday, August 15, 7pm, Cabramatta RLFC, Sussex St, Cabramatta. Contact Gabriel Keegan on firstname.lastname@example.org
• QLD-based: Sunday, August 17, 11am, Fortitude Valley Primary School Oval, cnr Brookes St and St Paul’s Terrace, Fortitude Valley. Contact Robert Burgin on Robert@sambatimes.com
The Heat is aware the team now has interested players in Melbourne, Canberra and Perth and is willing to help co-ordinate training for those with a genuine desire to play.
All abilities are welcome to trial and off-field roles exist for those interested in helping this not-for-profit project grow.
Aside from naming rights sponsor Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, the Latin Heat thanks Crop del Monte Coffee Specialists, Rumba Latina Entertainment, Chimi.com.au Gourmet Sauces, Link Australia International Student Services, Fighting for Fitness Gym and Gringo Media for their support.