El Salvador is taking a refreshingly unselfish approach to international rugby league development, opening doors for all fellow Central American nations.
The tiny country, which is ranked 37th in the world, is a genuine pioneer on the global league stage.
At present it is hosting coaches from Guatemala and Costa Rica, with the aim of launching domestic leagues all throughout the region.
The coaches are spending 10 days in El Salvador, sharing the wisdom of their own experiences, but also taking back the early learnings of El Salvador in international league.
Ongoing communication with a handful of other Central American countries also continues, as well as plans of future collaboration with Mexico Rugby League and Colombia Rugby League.
El Salvador first participated in rugby league at the 2015 Cabramatta International Nines and has since played Tests in Sydney against Chile, Thailand and Uruguay.
While its early international sides have been dominated by Salvadorenos living in Australia, the majority of their players were born in El Salvador itself and migrated to Australia because of prolonged civil war.
They are also one of the few Latin American teams which has fielded Latinos from the USA, another common destination for Salvadorenos after their civil unrest.
In the past 12 months there has been a pronounced shift to transferring the momentum in the Australian Salvadoreno community into results on home soil.
Twice weekly training sessions have commenced, and great work is being done to solidify the foundations of the sport’s status in the eyes of the community and government.
For a country which is recognised as one of the grittiest on the planet, there is a market there amid a vacuum of success for football in the nation.
El Salvador has not competed in a FIFA World Cup since 1982 and its current ranking of 87 in the roundball game is its highest ever.
Rugby union is only relatively new in the country too, with El Salvador playing its first international in 2012 and suffering a number of heavy losses, including a 114-0 defeat to Guatemala last August.
Funding for El Salvador – and therefore for its expansion efforts in neighbouring countries – has come about primarily through the personal work of Daniel Godinez and Chris Reid, along with sponsor Dan Castaneda of Cast Graphics and local official Fanny Saravia.
Godinez is a Salvadoran-born refugee who settled in Australia as a child, while Reid is an Australian international league enthusiast married to a Salvadoran refugee.
The two have been influential members of the Latin Heat movement, a 100% volunteer-run organisation that promotes rugby league development through 24 countries across Latin America.
To purchase an El Salvador jersey or other selection of merchandise, with all proceeds going to Latin American Rugby League, CLICK HERE.
The 100% volunteer-run Latin American Rugby League has been supported primarily by Guzman y Gomez Mexican Taquerias, Shield Security Pty Ltd, Tattoo Tears, Cast Graphics, IntaGas Services, LS Tax & Accounting Services, Retro-Com Digital TV Specialists, Colombianos en Brisbane, GMA Tourism, EMSA Education and Migration Services Australia, Lichtnauer and Associates Accountants, The Edge Home Loans, Oaky North Lodge CFMEU, ACTIVE Rehabilitation Physiotherapy, Radio Austral and Fighting For Fitness Gym.