Heading ‘down under’: Local looking to play in football bowl game

RIO HONDO — Every now and again, life hands you a surprise, and for Rio Hondo senior Joshua Gonzalez, this surprise is one he hopes doesn’t slip through his hands.

About three months ago, Gonzalez, a noted football player for the Rio Hondo Bobcats, received word from his coach that he had a letter on his desk with his name on it.

What Gonzalez opened was an invitation to play in the Down Under Bowl in Australia.

The bowl was established in 1989 and is used to promote football in Australia and New Zealand.

Past notable participants of the Down Under Bowl have included Jake “The Snake” Plummer, who played for the Denver Broncos, and Ahman Green, who played for the Green Bay Packers.

This is the 28th year of the competition and teams are chosen from the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

The trip consists of a few days in Australia and upon return a quick stop in Hawaii.

But for Gonzalez, son of a decorated Army veteran who served three tours overseas, this opportunity means much more than just a trip of a lifetime.

“I want to get to play the game one more time,” said Gonzalez. “Maybe it will open up new doors so I can show what I can do.

“Not a lot of people get this opportunity to represent the Valley and I was given a chance.”

However, the total for the trip is around $7,000, a sizable amount for anybody.

The senior Honor Roll student has until June 1 to pay the amount and has set up a GoFundMe account for any one who wishes to donate. He’s also open to sponsorship offers.