Hitting a home run – to Japan

2016-08-09 06:00
Rio Harrison (11) from Ottery is the only Capetonian selected to take part in the World Children’s Baseball Fair in Toyoma in Japan. Read more on page 8. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

Rio Harrison (11) from Ottery is the only Capetonian selected to take part in the World Children’s Baseball Fair in Toyoma in Japan. Read more on page 8. PHOTO: Chevon Booysen

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He is only 11 years old and is already set to take the baseball world by storm.

Rio Harrison from Ottery will be attending the World Children's Baseball Fair in Toyoma, Japan, and will be leaving for two weeks on 15 August.

Rio, who plays for the Varsity Old Boys Club, will be taking part in the baseball fair from Tuesday 16 August until Wednesday 24 August.

He says he cannot wait to visit the foreign country.

“I feel scared to be so far away from home but at the same time I am also very excited. I look forward to taking part in the fair,” Rio beams.

The provincial baseball player says the announcement was made at the South African Baseball Union (SABU) meeting during April and left him “surprised”.

“I did not know that I would be selected, and when they called my name, and first on the list as well, I was shocked. It was really a great moment for me to know I will be a part of this amazing event,” he says.

Coming from an athletic family, Rio says he started playing baseball with his dad in their garage since he was just five years old.

“My dad used to be a baseball player as well as my grandma. I was even a bat boy for my dad’s team at one time and got paid for it as well,” he laughs.

Asked what he looks forward to most about his visit to Japan, he says making new friends “and eating sushi!”

The 11-year-old Groote Schuur Primary pupil’s family says they are excited for him as well, but will surely miss him while he is away.

His parents, Stacey-Lee and Byron, say they are “very nervous but also very proud” of their baseball player.

“It’s quite daunting to have him away from home for so long, but we are so proud of his achievement and wishing him all the best while he visits Japan,” says Stacey-Lee.

Fifteen countries will be participating and five youth from South Africa have been selected.

Rio, who managed to reap provincial colours for the second time in a row this year, was selected as the only Capetonian.

On his plans for the future, Rio – who also plays soccer, rugby and tennis – says he wants to become a professional baseball player.

“I would love to play for my favourite team, the New York Yankees, one day.”

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