Rugby league allows Latinos to tap into heritage

Corrimal rugby league player Jye Sommers.

Corrimal rugby league player Jye Sommers.

RUGBY LEAGUE

For rugby league, Latin America remains the final frontier, the last remaining continent where the greatest game of all isn't played.

It's something Corrimal's Jye Sommers is hoping to change as he prepares to captain the Latin Heat in just their second test match against Thailand at Windsor on Sunday.

For Sommers, becoming involved in the Latin Heat has been a journey of self-discovery and a chance to tap in to his Peruvian heritage.

These days, the 33-year-old knows his grandfather grew up close to the Peruvian capital of Lima, in the portside district of Callao and has found an avenue to celebrate that fact through skippering the Latin Heat.

"The old man found out about our [Peruvian] heritage a bit later due to certain circumstances but since finding out we've really embraced it," Sommers said.

"The Latin Heat team is the first real way I've found an avenue to associate with other Latinos.

"I'm loving it. To be one of only two Peruvians involved in the team and to have represented the side as captain is a great source of pride.

"This team is achieving more than just spreading rugby league," he said.

Sommers' association with Latin Heat began when he emailed team manager Robert Burgin looking to buy a jersey as a gift for his father.

When he let on that he captain-coaches the Corrimal Cougars Illawarra Coal Shield (third grade) side, Burgin asked him to come on board.

The Heat's first test last year saw them suffer a 114-0 loss to a vastly more experienced Filipino team but Sommers said it was a definitely a worthwhile exercise.

"It didn't got too well on the scoreboard but the exposure saw guys ringing up from as far Canberra and Western Australia, so the blokes involved from here on in will have a bigger rugby league background," Sommers said.

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