By Victor Okoye
Russell Brooks, the Information Officer at the U.S. Embassy, Abuja on Saturday said the U.S. was willing to partner with Nigeria to promote the game of baseball in the country.
Brooks spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of a baseball youth programme in Abuja.
NAN reports that the camp, which opened on Oct. 9, ended on Saturday with an exhibition match and presentation of certificates of participation by the organisers at the Baseball pitch of the Package B National Stadium.
The week-long youth baseball camp, which was organised by the U.S. embassy and the Baseball Tomorrow Academy, featured Jeremy Guthrie, a former major league baseball pitcher.
“Nigerians love sport and they share that in common with Americans.
“We are a sports crazy country and certainly any opportunity we have to promote collaboration between our countries is something we want to do,” he said.
NAN also reports that no fewer than 60 youths drawn from five states in the country participated in the programme and were taught various skills in the game of baseball.
They also received instructions and technical advice on how to improve their skills to become better baseball players.
Brooks said that the future the game in the country was bright, adding that all that was required was more training and opportunities for the youths to play.
“Today the children were able to put to use all the education and training about baseball which they received during the course of the programme.
“So they put it all together. We saw the pitchers doing a great job and the batters hitting the ball very well.
“That showed they had learnt a lot even with the few days they had with the former major league baseball player.
“Obviously, if they continue to play and have opportunities to receive good coaching, well I think the future is very bright for these young children,” he said.
He explained that the programme, among others things, aimed at providing the youths with instructions and life skills, adding that the U. S. embassy was always a willing partner of such programmes.
“What is special about the Baseball Tomorrow Academy is that not only do they focus on improving the skills of these youths and promoting the game, but they also provide them with instructions and life skills.
“They are taught how to avoid drugs, to focus on education and become good citizens, among others.
“We at the U.S. embassy are always interested in supporting programmes that empower youths and encourage them to succeed because we recognise that the youth represent the future of Nigeria.
“We want Nigeria to be a strong and prosperous country and that can only be possible if the youths are empowered to be successful and educated citizens.
“So, it is our pleasure to have been part of this programme. It was indeed a fantastic success and we want to thank Guthrie for his participation as well as Baseball Tomorrow Academy for their contribution.
“We certainly hope to continue with such programmes in the future,” he said.
Brooks also called on the federal and state governments as well as other stakeholders to make their meaningful contributions in order to ensure the growth of the game in the country.
“This particular programme is collaboration purely between the U. S. Embassy, Baseball Tomorrow Academy and their partners.
“But we certainly hope that the Federal Ministry of Sports as well as the various state governments across the country will see this as an example of what could be done in terms of promoting baseball here in Nigeria.
“We hope that they would in the future make their contributions as well as provide facilities, so that these young people, who are passionate about the game, will have legitimate places to play.
“Certainly, if Nigerians continue to show that they are interested and passionate about baseball, I am quite certain that the U. S. embassy will continue to try to support that effort,” he said.