THIS Saturday when Michael Bolz steps onto the field at Sydney University to represent Latin America Under 18s in Rugby League, he writes the newest chapter of a remarkable family tale.
It was only days ago, as he began final preparations for the NRL One Community Redfern Nines, that young Michael told teammates of his pride in perpetuating the feats of late grandfather, Carlos Bolz.
Carlos, who passed away on July 21 aged 70, not only represented the family homeland of Uruguay in football, but was also a former national cycling champion.
“He achieved a lot and people thought highly of him,” revealed 17-year-old Michael.
“It was in the 1970s that he moved to Australia and became one of the founding members of the Uruguayan Social and Sporting Club.”
For someone from such an esteemed sporting background, there are few pretentions from Michael, a quiet kid and eager learner.
Though he plays for the Tweed Coast Raiders in northern New South Wales, Bolz has been travelling each week to train with the GYG Latin Heat squad in Brisbane.
It’s been a chance for him to reconnect with his family’s past, while also breaking ground in a new sport for Uruguayans.
Remarkably, for a nation of just three million residents, Uruguay has regularly performed outstanding feats in the sporting arena – winning two FIFA World Cups and reaching the semi-finals five times.
The Latin Heat squad in Australia has also discovered the ‘Gauchos’ have a remarkable aptitude for the 13-man game.
Designed to give the 700 million Latinos worldwide an international face in Rugby League, and a starting point for development, the GYG Heat has been blessed by several talented Uruguayans.
In the Under 18s alone there is also team linchpin Javier Britos and newcomer Luke Morrissey.
Britos is the cousin of Latin Heat senior players Nicholas, Matt and Noah Cama, while international reps Josh Gadea-Hellyer, Adam Kungl and Ryan Kungl are also of Uruguayan extraction.
New South Wales Country Under 16 rep Aiden Tremethick is another who could represent Uruguay, as could Parramatta Eels Under 20s player Jason Vidal.
In Harmony Cup (Under 16s) much of the Latin Heat team direction comes from halves partners and brothers Gabriel and Diego Papa, who are half-Uruguayan, half-Argentinian.
Completely coincidental to the Bolz story, the Uruguayan Social and Sporting Club was recently unveiled on the front of the Gauchos’ jersey for the Men’s Latino Sevens – providing a neat link to Michael’s family tree.
The Men’s Sevens will feature eight teams representing Latin American nations – Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, El Salvador and Brazil – in a global first at Cabramatta RLFC on October 17
It will complete a busy upcoming month for the Heat, who are again well supported by major sponsors Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias and SHIELD Security, plus new sponsors Serious About Rugby League, Lichtnauer and Associates accountants, and computer game Rugby League Team Manager 2015.
Several further backers are expected to be formally announced in coming days.
LATIN HEAT SCHEDULE SEPT-OCT:
SAT, SEP 19 – NRL One Community Redfern Nines (Under 18s) – Sydney University from 10am.
SAT, OCT 10 – NRL One Community Harmony Cup (Under 16s) – St Mary’s
SAT, OCT 17 – GYG Latino Rugby League Sevens (Men 17+) – Cabramatta RLFC from 5-8pm
SAT, OCT 24 – Fairfield Latino Culinary Festival (Come see our stall and meet the team)
LATIN HEAT SQUAD FOR REDFERN NINES:
1.Jordan Ramos (Brazil)
2.Lochlan Keegan (Argentina)
3.Eduardo Vega-Valderrama (Argentina/Bolivia)
4.Paul Vitale (Chile)
5.Mana Castillo-Sioni (Chile)
6.Javier Britos (Uruguay)
7.Jonathon Xavier (Brazil)
8.Andrew Foai (Chile)
9.Steven Azzopardi (Spain – Guest Player)
10.James Gonclaves (Brazil)
11.Dahcell Ramos-Malo (Ecuador)
12.Junior Alarcon (El Salvador)
13.Richard Hernandez (Chile)
14.Michael Bolz (Uruguay)
15.Luke Morrissey (Uruguay)
Coach: Steve Anson / Gabriel Keegan
Trainers: Kim Britos / Robert Burgin / Eduardo Wegener