What do we do?
Who would have thought it would ever get to this stage? I helped start Latin American Rugby League in 2013 - also known as Latin Heat - for a whole bunch of reasons. One of my best friends as a kid was Argentinian, I sponsored a Colombian boy through school, my wife is Brazilian, and I have adored Latin America and its people on every adventure I've had travelling there.
I always wondered why the sport of Rugby League (NRL or Rugby XIII to some of you) had not grown to that part of the world.
For the past five years Latin Heat has been encouraging Latin Americans into the sport. We've grown from just three players at our first training session to hundreds of players in over a dozen countries. We do everything from run free development clinics to helping organise international fixtures. For us it's as much about providing a welcoming, nurturing, healthy activity as it is about the competition itself.
It's time to take that next step
Since the beginning the major aim has been to assist the staging of a full 13-a-side Latin American Rugby League championships, held on Latin American soil, similar to the Copa America in soccer.
We've held lots of games for Latinos living in Australia and the USA, plus local games in Latin America, but never a full 13-a-side international championships where the teams are comprised of domestic players from across Latin America.
When we first planned this championships for November 2017 we were anticipating 4 nations would attend. It now looks like double that will participate - including Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Bolivia, plus another team yet to be finalised - which will increase our overheads.
Here’s what we’re doing about it
Through our own hard work and sponsors we've already raised more than AU$10,000 to contribute to the travel costs of players attending this tournament, given many of the players come from modest backgrounds and struggle to get time away from their employment and family, let alone be able to pay for flights. However the overall tournament budget for travel is above $30,000 and we would like to further bridge this gap so that 2/3 of travel expenses are covered, thus opening the sport to players of all financial predicaments, not just those who are blessed with money.
You can pitch in
We're looking for $10,000 overall - but many hands make for light work! We will accept donations of all denominations. This is a massive dream for me and the rest of the volunteer organisation to get this up and running, so as I always say - if you'd ever shout me a beer, convert that into $5 and put that into something more tangible that can provide a longer lasting smile for both the participants and me.
And just for the record...I will travel to the championships, but I'll be 100% paying my own way. Only players living in Latin America will receive money from this fund.
Thanks for contributing
For every $5 contributed, you'll receive an entry into the draw for a Holden automobile raffle, plus receive a free Great Getaways e-book.
RAFFLE PRIZES: 1st: Holden Trax, 2nd: Holden Spark, 3rd: Home entertainment package.
If you donate $50, you receive 10 entries into the pool.