MULTICULTURAL West End in Brisbane will this Saturday host a rugby league match which puts an exotic twist on the classic State of Origin contest.
Four days before Suncorp Stadium hosts Game One of this year’s Origin series, historic Davies Park will be the venue for an unprecedented clash between the Latino communities of Queensland and New South Wales on May 27.
While Australia’s Latino community is more famed for its soccer tournaments and street festivals, a taste for rugby league has become more evident in the past five years.
The teams lining up for the clash at Davies Park will be representative of 24 Latino nationalities and be known as the ‘Sapos’ and ‘Cucarachas’, a translation of the traditional Origin mascots of the canetoad and cockroach.
Interestingly, both creatures have links to South and Central America long predating Origin, with canetoads native to the region, and the song La Cucaracha made famous the world over.
“This is a match our players have been encouraging us to make happen for several years now,” said Daniel Godinez, president of event hosts GYG Latin Heat Rugby League.
“Our priority until now has been to encourage the formation of international teams for the individual nations of Latin America, which has led to three of them becoming world-ranked (Chile, El Salvador, Uruguay) and several others featuring in exhibition games.
“But it seems that State of Origin is so pervasive in the rugby league world that we couldn’t continue to hose down the enthusiasm among our playing ranks, both in Australia and abroad.
“Since announcing the fixture, we’ve had messages from Latino players all around the world, expressing support or wanting to play.”
Home to Queensland Intrust Super Cup team the Souths Logan Magpies, Davies Park is the perfect venue to capture the attention of the community.
West End has long been an eclectic hub, central to Queensland’s migrant communities, with almost 20 per cent of residents speaking a language other than English at home.
Neighbouring South Brisbane, which encompasses the vibrant Southbank precinct, has in excess of 30 per cent of the population speaking a language other than English at home.
The venue is also 5km from Spring Hill, the only suburb in Queensland where Spanish is the second-most spoken language.
“Davies Park is almost as close to the CBD as Suncorp Stadium and we’re big fans of how Souths Logan has embraced multiculturalism in the past,” Godinez said.
“While many people associate the club with Mal Meninga, Wayne Bennett, Bob Lindner and Gary Belcher, they’re also famed for being a front-runner in welcoming Lebanese, Indigenous, Fijian, Greek, Italian, Samoan and Tongan players among others.
“Each year the West End area hosts Fiesta Latina and it’s one of the best places in Brisbane to go if you are a fan of Latino music, food and drink.
“Playing at Davies Park has been an ambition of Latin Heat for several seasons and we’re delighted to work with the Souths Logan club in making it happen.”
The main match, kicking off at 5.15pm, will feature a full 80-minute contest between the QLD and NSW Latino sides, played under full tackle rules.
Players will wear culturally themed maroon or blue jerseys featuring Latin American icons such as Christ the Redeemer, Chichen Itza, the toucan, llama and condor.
A mixed sex curtain-raiser tag game (non-tackle) will be played between members of Brisbane’s Latino community who are novices in the sport.
All funds raised by the event will be put towards funding a Latin American Rugby League championship in Chile, Santiago in November.
A series of free clinics, including engagement of international schools, has been held in the months leading to the event to teach newcomers the basics of rugby league.
Latin Heat aims to encourage mutual appreciation of Latino and Australian culture at all events, and provide a welcoming networking group for Latinos interested in an active lifestyle.
QLD POSITION NSW
Angel Morrison (Uruguay) Fullback James Horvat (Chile)
Claude Jackson (Guyana) Wing Javier Britos (Uruguay)
Pablo Zahoran (Chile) Centre Chris Brantes (Chile)
Oscar Mendoza (El Salvador) Centre Jono Godinez (El Salvador)
Cesar Contreras (Venezuela) Wing Frank Altamirano (Peru)
Bradley Millar © (Chile) Five-Eighth Jose Martinez (El Salvador)
Trent Millar (Chile) Halfback Alvaro Alarcon © (El Salvador)
Rafael Mendoza (El Salvador) Prop Fred Arteaga-Figueroa (El Salvador)
Seb Martinez (Colombia) Hooker Niko Cama (Uruguay)
Chris Castro (El Salvador) Prop John Vasco (Ecuador)
Carlos Reyes Kiwi Kiwi (El Salvador) Second Row Steve Clarke (Uruguay)
Daniel Mejia (Colombia) Second Row Mana Castillo (Chile)
Jaxson Uzabeaga (Chile) Lock Luis Fhon (Peru)
Seb Schubert (El Salvador) Interchange William Gomez (Ecuador)
Diego Gil Vejerano (Cololmbia) Interchange Sebastian Jacome (Ecuador)
Nick Doberer (Chile) Interchange Edgar Santamaria (Ecuador)
Jonathan Espinoza (Nicaragua/Chile) Interchange Frank ‘Paco’ Godinez (El Salvador)
Isaac Duggan (Chile) Interchange Eugene Araya (Chile)
Francisco Munoz (Chile) Interchange Sean Day (Peru)
Daniel Rickard (Colombia) Interchange Daniel Godinez (El Salvador)
Brandon Rodriguez (El Salvador) Interchange
Kevin McKenzie (Guyana) Interchange
Two to be omitted
Rodrigo Millar Coach Jeff Charles
The efforts of the 100% volunteer-run Latin Heat Rugby League are supported by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, Brisbane City Council, S.H.I.E.L.D Security, Tattoo Tears, OneBigSwitch.com.au, Cast Graphics, SeriousAboutRL.com, Retrocom Digital TV Specialists, Colombianos en Brisbane, EMSA Education and Migration Services, Raw Juicery, SEMCAR Mechanics, Lichtnauer and Associates Accountants, Cabramatta Ink, Majestic Property Maintenance, musician Royal El Latino and Darkside Studio Photography.