Former London Broncos and South Queensland Crushers player Nigel Soden has been elected the new Latin Heat Rugby League president, as the organisation puts particular focus on encouraging growth in female and junior participation.
Soden, raised in Blackwater and educated at famed rugby league school St Brendan’s Yeppoon, becomes the fourth president of the not-for-profit Heat, established to provide a pathway for 700 million Latin Americans worldwide.
“I’ve been a passionate internationalist and expansionist for many years,” Soden said.
“After recently witnessing first-hand PNG defeat England in Port Moresby, I’m more determined than ever to make a difference for the sport of rugby league.
“It is genuinely a very exciting time for international rugby league with all the events and opportunities that are happening – and Latin America is arguably the most exciting area of all.”
Soden has previously been involved with Latin Heat as both a sponsor and secretary.
He is a business development manager for several ventures, including Dr Pickles tattoo aftercare, First Grade Recruitment and Sales Payment Solutions.
Soden is joined on a streamlined committee by previous presidents Rod Millar and Robert Burgin.
Millar, who has helped the Heat achieve a stronger financial position after his one-year tenure, returns to his previous role as treasurer.
Founding president Burgin returns to the role of secretary after taking a year’s absence to follow other pursuits.
“There have recently been constitutional changes made to allow the executive committee to make quicker decisions and ultimately achieve more within the year, which is exciting,” said Burgin.
“In the past year we have seen Chile’s male team qualify for a second Americas Cup, with the opportunity to travel to Jamaica later in 2020, we’ve seen Brasil’s women qualify for the 2021 World Cup in England, and we’ve seen many Latin American countries increasingly start to operate independently, all of which we’d like to think Latin Heat helped encourage in a small way.
“With so many countries now standing on their own two feet, with their own direction, it forces us to reconsider where we can help most, and increasing junior and female numbers is a big target for us.”
For the first time, the GYG Latin Heat will enter a female team at the upcoming Cabramatta International Nines on February 1 at Cabramatta RLFC.
The Heat also has two youth teams set to play Malta on February 22 as curtain-raisers to the Brasil v Peru match at Waminda Oval, East Campbelltown.
Free training sessions are being held for all these matches. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on being considered for selection.
Latin Heat’s 100% volunteer-run efforts continue to be supported by major sponsors Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias and SHIELD Security.