By Bayo Sekoni
Oyo Government, on Saturday in Ibadan donated 30 acres of land for the construction of a Baseball and Softball complex for the development of the sport in the state.
The District Secretary, Baseball and Softball Little League Nigeria, Ayodeji Owolabi, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the ongoing Clinic and second edition of the Little League series.
Owolabi , who said the complex would be built at Ajoda in Egbeda Local Government,added that the complex would comprise hostels, four pitches and other facilities.
He noted that the state government had already mandated two schools from each of the 11 local government areas in Ibadan to adopt the game.
He said that 17 teams, with players within the ages of nine and 12 years from Kwara, Lagos, Delta, Ondo and Abuja, were participating in the league, slated to hold between Nov. 3 and 5.
The secretary said that the coaching clinic, which would end on Nov. 13, had trainers from the USA and Netherlands.
He said that the league,which started in January 2016, was aimed at grooming young athletes to build careers in the sport.
Owolabi said the winner of the league would be among the eight teams to compete in the Tokyo Olympics, if it emerges winner in the playoff with any of the champions from Asia or South America.
Also, Gerard Hall, District Administrator, Little League, Washington DC, and clinician, said that Nigeria had potential in baseball and softball.
Hall told NAN that for the country to maximise its potential in the sport, the facilities must be provided to promote the sport.
“There is raw skill and talents that need to be nurtured. I have seen four Nigerian players in the competition who have potential of going professional.
“Development possible for the sport which comes from playing; If you get them early you can build the passion into them.
“All it entails is to have a programme of what they should learn within a certain period and coaches at different stages of their development can build on these; it makes coaching job a lot easier,’’ Hall said.
Commenting on the league and baseball generally in Nigeria, Hall said “there is a lot better organisation in the sport since 2012 when I first came to Nigeria”.
Similarly, Henrica Dirks from the Netherland, said that the clinic was to work with the coaches under the train-the-trainer project.
Dirk said that though the technical level of the game was still low in the country and a lot still had to be done to impart the fundamentals in participants, “but the enthusiasm and dedication displayed has been impressive”.
She said that equipment worth over 4,000 Euros consisting balls, helmet, gloves and pads had arrived the country to enhance the development of the sport.