THERE will be more than just a hint of the Sunshine Coast behind Brasil’s unprecedented tilt at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
North coast trio Paul Grundy, Zach Grundy and Robert Burgin are all set to play pivotal roles as the Brazilian women’s team prepares to be the first-ever Latin American nation appearing at the game’s showpiece.
And they hope to use the opportunity to promote their idyllic hometown to the world.
“Brasil provides the fourth-highest number of tertiary students to Australia, but we surprisingly don’t see a lot of them studying or settling on the Sunshine Coast at present,” said Burgin, Football and Strategy Manager for Brasil Rugby League.
“When you consider that Brazilians love the surf, nature and being outdoors, it makes sense that we create a stronger link between Latin America and the Sunshine Coast.
“We’ll be talking to council, regional tourism bodies, universities and colleges, and commerce about how we can promote the wonders of the coast, Noosa and Wide Bay to that substantial audience.
“The Sunshine Coast obviously has some exciting infrastructure projects underway such as the new international airport and Maroochydore city centre, and is home to the east coast’s newest and fastest internet connection point and a burgeoning tech environment.
“Throw in a seemingly endless number of tourist attractions and a fantastic lifestyle.
“There are plenty of synergies between Brazilians and Australians to explore, with rugby league being one of the latest and most exciting aspects.”
Burgin, who is married to a Brazilian wife, has been involved in developing rugby league in Latin America since 2013.
The Peregian Beach resident was previously employed by the Queensland Rugby League and currently assists the Sunshine Coast Falcons in a managerial aspect.
Meanwhile, father-son duo Paul and Zach Grundy are filling respective roles as the Director of Coaching and Development, and the Chief Financial Officer of Brasil Rugby League.
Paul has been heavily involved in the past with local rugby league clubs Nambour Crushers and Coolum Colts, while Zach was a Coolum High student and former Crushers player who followed his heart to Brasil.
“Zach fell in love with a Brazilian exchange student when he was 16 and decided to move to Brasil from a young age,” Burgin explains.
“He now has a beautiful young family there and he still plays and coaches rugby league for a team in his state of Minas Gerais.
“His father has fallen in love with Brasil as a country too, speaks a good level of Portuguese and has a background as a Level 3 coach, so he is perfect for explaining and expanding the sport there.
“Amazingly, I had never met the Grundys until we all became involved in Brasil Rugby League, despite having lived three minutes away from each other in Australia.”
The entry of the Brazilian team to the 2021 World Cup in England is somewhat of a fairytale, with many players set to be thrust from the veritable wilderness into the global spotlight of live BBC broadcasts.
Brasil also has the opening game of the Women’s World Cup, scheduled to meet host England in Leeds.
Burgin sees the rags-to-riches narrative and the pure size of Brasil’s 210 million population as hugely inviting for potential sponsors and partners.
Not to mention a favourable exchange rate and the chance to double-dip with market audiences.
“We already know that one in four Australians watched the last Rugby League World Cup in 2017,” Burgin said.
“To me it makes a lot of sense to back a team, where you are not only communicating to a significant foreign audience, but also appealing to your potential domestic and Pacific customers as well.
“We’re on the cusp of something pretty exciting and the potential for growth from here in all aspects is enormous.”
Brasil will hold camps for its extended national squad in April, with former professional Super League player Matt Gardner taking the reins as Head Coach.
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