Chile's ground breakers have a Brisbane flavour

When you consider what lengths some people go to in order to represent their country at any level of sport and take in what sacrifices these people make – it is quite astonishing.

International rugby league is an area of growing interest; and some of the players putting in the hard yards and making these sacrifices to take part are those in the Chilean rugby league side.

The team recently represented Latin America in the recent World Cup Rugby League qualifiers in Jacksonville Florida; the first team from that area of the globe to participate in a Rugby League World Cup qualifier.

Although making it through to the next World Cup in 2021 in the United Kingdom didn't quite go as planned, Chile certainly have made an important dint on the international rugby league map, as a nation vying to take the sport to the next level.

Heavy defeats to the USA (62-0) and Canada (62-12) certainly didn't damper the spirits of the Chilean team – in fact it appeared to make them even stronger for their next assignment.

 

Not long to go before Chile Enters as the first ever Latin American Nation to Qualify in a Rugby League World Cup...

Posted by Chile Rugby League XIII on Monday, 5 November 2018

Chile were able to make this big step forward in international rugby league thanks to the hard work and strategic planning put in place by all involved in the Latin American movement.

The sacrifices that are aforementioned above, are quite extraordinary.

Some of the players flying the Chilean flag in the tournament were South East Queensland Division (Region) local Rugby League Brisbane players Bradley and Trent Millar, Iziah Esera Catrileo (Brothers Mustangs RLFC) and Jonathan Espinoza (Bulimba Valley's Bulldogs).

To say the Millar boys are proud of their heritage is an understatement.

"I can't begin to thank everyone for the support we have been given," Bradley said.

"It means so much to the players, the South American people and for rugby league, that we have such a great following."

Both Millar brothers have been stalwarts in the local Brisbane competition for some years, but have been nothing short of advocates for their nation.

Wanting the game to succeed and prosper in South America, at the recent El Salvador v Colombia international held at Brothers Rochedale RLFC, Bradley gave up his own time to run the water for the Colombian team, such is his passion and drive to help out where he can.

In fact, over the past year he has taken on a mentoring role for all players of Latin American heritage living in Queensland, and captained the Queensland Latino side.

The Millars are also lucky enough to be coached at club level by their father Rodrigo, who was also the coach of the Chile side for the qualifiers.

Rodrigo, who has played and coached with more than half-a-dozen teams on southside Brisbane, and throughout North Queensland, came to Australia from Santiago, Chile, in primary school.

Trent, Bradley and Rodrigo Millar. Photo: Supplied
Trent, Bradley and Rodrigo Millar. Photo: Supplied

Millar Snr's involvement with the Latin Heat (regional-based rugby league organisation) and South American rugby league is seminal and he was duly proud of the efforts of his team.

"The boys aimed up and did well considering the score line," said Millar Snr, who helped complete the Rugby League International Federation paperwork which saw his nation admitted to qualifiers.

"We move on from here and concentrate on our next game.

"I couldn't be more proud of the boys for coming this far."

From players paying their own way to the qualifiers to play for their country, to Latin Heat delegates using their own money to keep the South American Rugby League wheels turning and Futbol a 13 Chile directors Ronald Soto Badilla's and Guillermo Artiaga's personal sacrifices in their quest to promote and teach rugby league around the Chilean sports fields – the inspiring stories are endless.

In his drive to promote the game; Soto Badilla would often forgo looking after himself and instead use what money he had to ensure he had his bus fare to travel and teach the children of Chile the game of rugby league.

Soto Badilla has also used his own money to pay for equipment such as balls and tackling bags.

 

Congratulations to these men for becoming the first team from Latin America to contest a Rugby League World Cup...

Posted by Latin Heat - Rugby League on Tuesday, 13 November 2018

In the wake of their elimination from the 2021 World Cup race, Chile will now focus on remaining the top-ranked Latin American nation in global rankings and is eyeing several international matches before launching a renewed attack on the 2025 World Cup.

The Weichafes are always seeking quality players of Chilean heritage (either player, their parent or grandparent is born in Chile) and welcomes contact from anyone who may qualify to play either now or in the future.

(Main Photo: via Latin Heat website)