By BRENT STUBBS
Senior Sports Reporter
FOR the first time, the Bahamas Baseball Association hosted the Andre Rodgers National Baseball Championships and despite the downpours of rain that hampered the conclusion, president Sam Rodgers said he was still pleased with what he saw.
The BBA took over the tournament this year at the Emera Baseball Complex in Grand Bahama after the amalgamation of all of the leagues under one umbrella and dismantling of the previous founding hosts Bahamas Baseball Federation.
"From what I saw over the last couple of days, the potential is great now and it still has the potential to get greater," Rodgers said on Sunday after the completion of the tournament got rained out. "We had a great tournament, with the exception of the rain. I think the showing by all of the leagues were great and there is still a lot of work for us to do to make it even greater. But I can say that baseball is moving forward and it's moving with all of the leagues in the Bahamas."
All of the leagues showed up in Grand Bahama to participate with Freedom Farm winning the 14-and-under title, while the Grand Bahama Baseball League took the 18-and-under crown.
However, the rain forced officials to call off the completion of the 16-and-under, 12-and-under, 10-and-under and 8-and-under divisions.
From all indications, Rodgers said the response was very good.
"All of the persons that I spoke to said the tournament was great," he said. "Like every tournament, you will have one or two hitches, but there wasn't anything that we can't fix.
"So more than likely, when we do a post mortem of the tournament, we will set ourselves to begin the process to prepare for the next tournament next year."
While in discussion over the completion of the tournament, Rodgers said they will also be looking at the selection of the various national teams that will represent the country in the upcoming international tournaments.
He noted that by virtue of winning the 12-and-under title with a 4-3 victory over the Grand Bahama Little League, Freedom Farm will get to represent the Bahamas at the Little League Baseball Tournament. "We know that all of the leagues have their individual tournaments that they go to like the Babe Ruth for Freedom Farm and Grand Bahama go to Tennessee, so the BBA, as the governing body, will provide whatever assistance they can."
With all of the leagues under the BBA after there was a break away for the formation of the BBF about two decades ago, Rodgers said they intend to hold a conclave where they all sit around the table and discuss the way forward for the sport. "One of our major plans is to put together a national development programme for baseball," Rodgers said. "I want to get all of the leagues together to get their impute in putting this national development plan together.
"When it is finished and we start to implement it, we want all of the leagues to say that they had a plan in putting their impute forward. We are looking at six years to get the Bahamas ready to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games."
By then, Rodgers said they will be able to utilize the services of the players who are participating in the tournament and some of the players that are currently playing professional baseball, if they are still available to play.
He also said they hope to look at getting the players ready to play in some international tournaments as a team so that they can be in a better position to represent the country.
To that end, Rodgers said they hope to put on clinics for their players, coaches, administrators and umpires, with the assistance of the Bahamas Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
"We will put a small group of our executives to work on providing the clinics so we can make sure that we have our whole body ready for anything that may come to us," he stated.
Rodgers is in his seconds year as president, taking over the BBA top spot from the late Jim Wood, who headed the organization for more than two decades.