Baseball youngsters back from Japan

Monday, August 16, 2010, 23:34

A group of young Maltese boys have recently returned from an adventurous trip in Tokyo, Japan. They attended the 20th Annual World Children’s Baseball Fair, along with another two hundred children from around the globe. This was the second time that a group from Malta was invited to this prestigious baseball festival, with the first group attending the 5th fair about sixteen years ago. Danjel Aquilina, Maximilian Borg, Sami Elamin, Gabriel Grixti and Nicholas Micallef were chosen to represent Malta in this year’s fair. The five boys were chosen from a number of boys and girls who had participated in leagues organized by the Malta Baseball & Softball Association (MABS).

top row from left to right, Francesco Agresti (Host of Malta), Charles Attard (Chaperon of Malta), bottom row from left to right, Danjel Aquilina, Nicholas Micallef, Sami Elamin, Maximilian Borg, Gabriel Grixti, sitting from left to right, Shintaro Ishihara (Governor of Tokyo) and Sadaharu Oh (Chairman of the WCBF)

top row from left to right, Francesco Agresti (Host of Malta), Charles Attard (Chaperon of Malta), bottom row from left to right, Danjel Aquilina, Nicholas Micallef, Sami Elamin, Maximilian Borg, Gabriel Grixti, sitting from left to right, Shintaro Ishihara (Governor of Tokyo) and Sadaharu Oh (Chairman of the WCBF)

The boys along with their coach, Charles Attard, experienced a fantastic baseball fair. Professional coaches from the International Baseball Federation set up six full mornings of intensive training for the children, giving them tips of how to refine their game and improve their skills on the field. Co-founder and Japanese baseball legend, Sadaharu Oh attended as usual as this year’s WCBF while Hall of Famer and two-time World Champion, Lou Brock made several appearances on the baseball diamond, signing autographs and taking pictures with the young athletes. All clinics were held at the Metropolitan Komozawa Olympic Park.

The World Children Baseball Foundation also organized several off-the-field events, such as attending the 5th World University Baseball Championship between Japan and China. This was the first time that the Maltese boys had ever attended a baseball game at a stadium, which was hosted at the home of the Tokyo Swallows, Meiji Jingu Stadium. The children also got the chance to experience a traditional Japanese festival and Kabuki, a traditional Japanese play. A visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building was also organized for the children, where they saw the skyline of Tokyo with Mount Fuji in the background.

After intensive training and making new friends, team Malta was awarded the Outstanding Performance Award along with the United States and New Zealand. This was a well-deserved award for the Maltese boys, as even though they were not the best athletes on the field, they still stood out amongst the sothers due to their determination and enthusiasm during the clinics.

During the event, the Maltese boys and other children from other countries had the chance to learn about uniting the world as one, and even though they came from different countries, spoke different languages, belonged to different religions and had different skin colour, they all unite as one, through the sport of baseball. The World Children’s Baseball Fair is supported by many iconic figures in baseball such as World Home Run King and Chairman of the WCBF, Sadaharu Oh, co-founder and Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, the President of the International Baseball Federation Riccardo Fraccari and Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig.

The Malta Baseball & Softball Association hopes that this experience will strengthen the Maltese participants’ enthusiasm for baseball, not just in the near future but even in the coming decades.





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