Baseballers off to Panama

2018-07-03 06:01
Western Province baseball players who will compete in the u.15 Baseball World Cup (from left): Liam Samuels, Jordan Stopforth, Ethan Buckley, Taariq Adams, Liam Ford, Jared Riffel and Philip Escreet.PHOTO:

Western Province baseball players who will compete in the u.15 Baseball World Cup (from left): Liam Samuels, Jordan Stopforth, Ethan Buckley, Taariq Adams, Liam Ford, Jared Riffel and Philip Escreet.PHOTO:

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Seven baseball players from the Western Cape have been included in the South African squad set to travel to Panama for the u.15 Baseball World Cup from 10 to 19 August.

The team will depart on Monday 30 July to attend a training camp in Florida, USA, for the final touches to their preparations.

Ethan Buckley (Durbanville), Liam Ford (Bothasig), Jordan Stopforth (Bothasig), Jared Riffel (Rondebosch), Taariq Adams (Athlone), Philip Escreet (Stellenbosch), and Liam Samuels (Grassy Park) are the locals wearing the green and gold.

Kevin Johnson from VOB in Rondebosch is the head coach with Paul van der Merwe from Bellville the assistant coach.

Johnson has all the experience needed to lead the youngsters. “I have been involved in baseball since the age of nine. I have played international baseball for almost a decade and the crowning achievement was participating in the 2000 Sydney Olympics with baseball. I have an enormous task, building something from scratch, but it is what I have been working on for years already, so I am excited for the challenge ahead,” says Johnson.

The way forward for baseball in the country is positive and the wheels are in motion leading up to the 2024 Olympics.

“This is a very new dawn in South African baseball as we have embarked on an eight-year plan leading up to the 2024 Olympics. Unfortunately I have only had three months to prepare this group, but I am more than happy with the players that have been selected. We are fortunate to be going to the USA one week prior to the Worlds to further prepare as a team in conditions that will be similar to what we expect at the Worlds.

“At this stage each player will be working hard to impress the coaches and to show they are good enough to be in the starting line-up when the first game starts. They will have four to five games in the USA to show that they are ready to lead the team in our quest to show we can be competitive at the Worlds, even with minimal preparation time,” says a confident Johnson.

Johnson believes this tournament will tell a lot in terms of where South Africa is compared to the rest of the world, seeing that youth teams competing on the world stage is a new thing.

The team will have a mindset that every game is of the utmost importance and to be more than just competitive when they take the field.

“Our biggest problem is that we prepare all around the country and will only get together as a team when we leave for the USA. The week that we have in Florida will be key to bringing all the groups together to be a team when we play our first game at the Worlds. Having said that, the players are really excited with us being one month away from departing,” says Johnson.

“The key to baseball in the country being successful in the eight-year plan is to attract corporates to back us financially.

“I have had so many invitations to prepare overseas with this team, but could not accept as the trip is already costing each player in excess of R35 000. If we want to be successful we must be able to attend international tournaments regularly so that our players can see the level they need to be at. We really want to encourage corporates to invest in baseball,” pleads Johnson.

Any company or individual interested in investing in this team can contact Deidre Marquard at dmarquard@juta.co.za or on 083 570 0777

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