Another teen's World Cup baseball dream comes true thanks to donor

2019-07-29 18:35
Johannesburg baseball player Boy Matthews. (Louis van Zyl, supplied)

Johannesburg baseball player Boy Matthews. (Louis van Zyl, supplied)

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Boy Matthews, a talented young baseball player from Alexandra, Johannesburg, will be able to represent his country at the U-18 World Cup next month, thanks to a last-minute donation from a generous sponsor. 

The funding for the teen's flights and accommodation to attend the tournament in South Korea, follows a successful crowdfunding campaign for his Cape Town-based team mate, Anovuyo Kethelo, on Friday.

Kethelo's Backabuddy campaign reached its R30 000 target with the help of News24 readers.

The coaching team alerted News24 to the fact that another player had the same dilemma. 

The Alexandra Baseball Club's plea came at the eleventh hour, with the tournament taking place next month. 

"We weren't quite sure what was gonna happen," said the club's acting chairman, Louis van Zyl.

The club started a Gofundme page for Matthews, which was still way short of its target on Friday morning. 

"We were worried… knowing he's not the only player who's got these problems," Van Zyl explained.

But their fortunes changed when a generous Twitter user, Roelof Peyper, contacted News24. 

Peyper had hoped to assist Kethelo, but since the teen's campaign had just reached its target, he pledged the entire sum for Matthews' trip.

"I feel it necessary to empower youth through sport. This could be the start of a young athlete's complete change to viewing his life and opportunities," Peyper said. 

Overjoyed

Van Zyl said the teenager was overjoyed when he heard the news.

"It was one of those ear to ear smiles," Van Zyl said.

"I was actually in Alex on Friday afternoon… and I had everybody together… It was unreal - you could see the smile, the relief on him. He didn't know what to do! I thought he was going to hug and kiss me."

The national under-18 head coach Dean McKinon said Kethelo and Matthews would be major assets to the team.

"They're naturally gifted with speed and agility…" he said.

McKinon said the pair would also play an integral part in bolstering team spirit on the tour.

"They're jovial, they're always happy and singing - it's that 'gees' that they bring."

More funding needed

McKinon said they were still looking for funding for at least one more player from a disadvantaged background. 

Van Zyl said one of the challenges with baseball was that it was not a high-profile sport, and it was therefore not as easy to attract sponsors.

"Being a self-funded sport a lot of the time, we are unable to afford to take these development kids with and it's crucial for our way forward to attract [players from underprivileged backgrounds]… and they make it on merit, which is exciting," McKinon told News24.

The team departs on August 27 to represent South Africa for a fourth time at the showpiece.

While South Africa are the reigning champions on the continent, McKinon is realistic about the team's chances against the best.

"We'll aim to win three games at least out of the eight that we'll play. We've got a tough draw though. We face world Number 1, America, and world Number 2, Japan, on the first two days," he explained.

If you would like to assist the team, contact: vptechnical@sabaseball.co.za or president@sabaseball.co.za

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Read more on:    boy matthews  |  anovuyo kethelo  |  johannesburg  |  baseball  |  sport
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