By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
TEDDY Sweeting, president of the Bahamas Baseball Federation, said that while they would have liked to include Freedom Farm in the 15th Grand Bahama Port Authority National Championships, they still had a very competitive showdown.
"From all of the compliments over the weekend, it was very successful," said Sweeting in summing up the three days of competition at the EMERA Baseball Stadium in Grand Bahama over the weekend.
"We put on a show of our young talent in this summer from every corner in respect to those who participated from Eleuthera, the Community Baseball League, Grand Bahama Little League, Legacy and the Junior Baseball League of Nassau."
However, Sweeting admitted that the absence of Freedom Farm Baseball League had an effect on the outcome of the tournament.
"We have to be honest with ourselves that anytime you don't have Freedom Farm involved, it takes away from what you are doing," he said.
"Whether it's in support of their participation or the fans that they bring, every organisation in this country wants to beat them.
"I don't care what the adults would say, but the kids want to play Freedom Farm players because they know that these young players are ready to play.
"When they are not there, you have a level of misopportunities because of what they bring to the table. But whether or not they are there, the show must go on and we have been in discussions with them and they intend to be a part of everything that we do moving forward."
With the talent on display from the coach pitch (7-8 years old) to the high school division (16-18), Sweeting said they are happy with what they saw.
"We have a lot of plans now as we go back and meet and plan the way forward," he said.
Although the federation has been embroiled with the Bahamas Baseball Association over who should have the rights as the governing body for the sport in the country, Sweeting said they are committed to providing the opportunity for the young men in the country to play baseball.
"We have a lot of work that we want to see happen right now for the Family Islands as we develop," he said.
"So we want to look at hosting the coach pitch, 9-10 and 11-12 divisions on their own.
"And then we want to come back and host the 13-14 up to the 25-over in which we separate the junior and senior nationals where we look at giving all of our players the opportunity to participate."
Sweeting said the federation would continue to do whatever they can to ensure that the local baseball players get the opportunity to play baseball.
As for the dispute that led to the formation of the federation, Sweeting said they are always waiting to see what direction the BBA and the individuals they are aligned with are going to take to determine the future of international play.
But he reminded everyone that the federation was formed with a mandate to develop the sport and they will continue in that vain.
The nationals wrapped up on Sunday with the JBLN winning four of the five titles, inclusive of the Coach Pitch (7-8), Minor League (9-10), Major (11-12) and Junior (13-15).
The only title they didn't bring back to the capital was the high school division (16-18) that was won by the Grand Bahama Little League.