One of the most eclectic rugby league teams to grace a field will assemble this coming Saturday, when the GYG Latin Heat faces Malta in back-to-back-junior duels at Liverpool in western Sydney.
The Heat, a composite team of players with Latin American heritage, will field an amazing Under 19s team that has 12 heritages from some of the world’s most exotic locales.
Among those nations represented will be Guatemala, Honduras and Ecuador, a nice addition to already emerging domestic activity in countries like Chile, Brasil, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Mexico and El Salvador.
Indeed, one of the most remarkable stories is the comeback of feisty Guatemalan speedster Pablo Garcia Crome (pictured above right), who was previously named the GYG Latin Heat’s best emerging junior, before being attacked and seriously wounded by a dog, leading to extended time away from sport.
An encouraging sign for rugby league is the presence of four Argentinians in the team, leading to hopes the prominent South American nation can emerge from a current period of stagnation to blossom in the future.
There are also four players listed with heritage in El Salvador, the country which coach Fredy Arteaga left as a childhood refugee after he witnessed several members of his family killed in a bloody civil war.
“I’m really proud of these boys and the way they’ve come together and obviously this whole project means a lot to me personally, and to the organisation,” Arteaga said.
“Looking back, we’re fairly certain this is the most mixed team Latin Heat has put together in terms of national representation, and one of the few where there are almost as many Central Americans as South Americans.
“I know from my own past experiences as a Latin Heat and El Salvador senior player that selection opens up a whole host of opportunities to discuss where your family is from and reconnect with the culture.
“First thing is first though, and that’s to compete with Malta we will have to come together as a team and work to our strengths. Malta is always a formidable opponent in any age group.”
Arteaga’s Under 19 side will be the second match on a card of three international matches at Hillier Oval, Liverpool.
The GYG Latin Heat will also play Malta’s Under 16 team at 2pm, prior to the Under 19s game at 3.30pm.
Brasil and Peru will clash in an open-age men’s contest at 5pm in the showcase event, the first time the two nations have met in 13-a-side rugby league.
Team lists for the other matches will be announced throughout the week, as will livestreaming details.
Latin American Rugby League would like to thank Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, SHIELD Security and Dr Pickles Tattoo Aftercare for their ongoing support.
GYG Latin Heat Under 19s
Saturday, February 22. Kick-off: 3:30pm
Hillier Oval, Liverpool
- Pablo Garcia Crome (Guatemala)
- Albert Maatouk (El Salvador)
- Sebastian Ribero (Uruguay)
- Alex Vetrisano (Argentina)
- Jon Araya Aliivaa (Chile)
- Ondray Maldonado (Peru)
- David Morrissey (Uruguay)
- Daniel Byrne (Argentina)
- Dechlan Uzabeaga (Chile/Argentina)
- Luis Cervilla (Argentina)
- Kyle Villagomez (Bolivia)
- Kody Albanil (Mexico)
- Iziah Esera Catrileo (Chile)
- Juan Campina (Brasil)
- Mauricio Vega (Chile/El Salvador/Honduras)
- Eddie Velasco (El Salvador)
- Johnny Gil (Colombia/Ecuador)
- Juan Antonio Rodriguez (El Salvador)
Coach: Fredy Arteaga (El Salvador)