By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
THE country’s best youth baseball talent will take on regional and international competition next weekend at the Babe Ruth Region Caribbean Championships and Invitational.
A total of 16 teams from 13 countries are expected to compete in the U12 and U16 divisions July 7-11 at the newly renovated baseball fields at the Baillou Hills Complex.
National Sports Authority chairman Greg Burrows Sr also serves as the Commisioner for Babe Ruth Baseball in the Caribbean.
“My responsibility was mainly developing the brand in the region. The way I thought would be a good way to launch this brand was to host a tournament during our Independence.
“I ended up at the NSA so I, immediately with the staff of the NSA and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force started the refurbishment of the Baillou Hills Fours,” he said. “I find that unless we create things, alot of us do not have the drive to do something. I’ve never seen so many people - once they have the understanding that something is happening - have the drive to get their hands dirty and start to develop those fields.”
Ticket packages for the event can be purchased at the NSA office at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium. Five day packages for adults are available at $65 for adults and $20 for children. Daily rates are $15 for adults and $5 for children.
SuperClubs Breezes will be the Games Village and teams are expected to begin arriving on July 4.
Javier Bowe, head of government innovations at Cable Bahamas, spoke on his orgaisation’s role as a major stakeholder.
“Once we were approached with sponsorship, our company gladly jumped in to assist with this worthwhile initiative,” he said. “We are happy to support this initiative. The support is from our CEO all the way down. We are excited to build on our mandate, connecting individuals and communities in a positive and meaningful way.”
Bowe also serves as manager of one of two under- 12 teams The Bahamas will enter into the eight-team field. Lionel Ferguson Jr will serve as manager of the other U12 team while Greg Burrows Jr will be the manager of the U16 team.
“We hosted showcases here in Nassau where each league sent their best players and the coaches had an opportunity to assess the players. We did the same thing in Grand Bahama to assess the talent. It was a very open process and each league was afforded an opportunity to make their players available,” Bowe said of the selection process. “We made the selections based on our criteria. There are no clubs, all teams have players represented from different leagues. We are all wearing Bahamas across our chest and that is what it is all about.”
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Mario Bowleg said the event is indicative of the current administration’s Sports in Paradise initiative.
“We have to understand that the amount of money we invest in our youth determines the future of our nation. The little that we put into these events is not sufficient compared to the lives we save with these young men,” he said. “We have a lot of professional baseball players in our system. These U12 and U16 divisions, this is where they start. So the investment we as a people, as a government, the Sports in Paradise brand is not about just having heads in beds, it is about giving exposure to our young people, giving them the opportunity to explore the world.”
A final schedule will be released in short order, pending confirmation from several outstanding teams.
Each of the age groups will feature two divisions competing in pool play for the first three days of the tournament. All teams will go into a single elimination playoffs on Sunday, July 10.
The opening ceremony will take place at 7pm on July 7 at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium.
Admission is free of charge.