By Robert Burgin, Date:28/8/13
REDCLIFFEâ€™S Ben Vengoa has put his money where his heart is, becoming the first sponsor of international rugby leagueâ€™s newest team â€“ the Latin
Of Chilean heritage, Vengoa and his business Plus Fitness Morayfield will occupy both sleeves of the Latin Heatâ€™s eye-catching jersey design.
Formed of Australian-based players of all Latin American ancestries, the Heat will make their debut in Brisbaneâ€™s Mitchelton Nines tournament on Saturday, September 21.
Not only will Ben Vengoa be among those taking the field, but his twin Brenden has also put his hand up, with younger brother Shaun another under consideration.
â€œIâ€™ve always dreamt Chile would one day play international rugby league,â€ said Ben.
â€œUntil we have greater depth, it makes sense to combine all the South American nations and I believe the Latin Heat concept will take off.
â€œAs someone starting out my own business with Plus Fitness, I know what it is to have a dream and how important it is to carry that through with passion.â€
When Latin Heat organisers first began working with Rugby League International Federation officer Tas Baitieri to identify talent, the Vengoa brothers were at the head of the list.
â€œI know the family well, they are talented footballers who have always wanted to represent their heritage,â€ said Baitieri.
â€œTheir father will be delighted that this has come to fruition.â€
Currently South America is the only occupied continent that does not have regular representation at an international level in rugby league.
There are advanced efforts to start domestic rugby league competitions in Brazil and Argentina, with other nations hopeful of following.
As it stands the Latin Heat squad has players from not only Chile, Brazil and Argentina, but also those from Colombia, Guyana, Uruguay and Costa Rica â€“ and is on the lookout for more talent.
The Heat has been actively recruiting at recent Latin American festivals and market days in Australia, welcoming interested newcomers to the game, along with those already boasting experience.
Beyond the Mitchelton Nines tournament, the Heat is targeting exhibition matches against other developing rugby league nations such as Thailand and Portugal.
The Heat has also received an invitation to participate in the prestigious and highly diverse Cabramatta Nines in Sydney next February.
More information can be found at https://www.facebook.com/SouthAmericanRugbyLeague