Te Kura goes the base­ball way

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Base­ball has a new fron­tier – Te Kura Maori o Porirua.

On March 10 the kura un­veiled a base­ball di­a­mond on its field in As­cot Park. It was de­vel­oped with the sup­port of Porirua City Coun­cil and bless­ing of Base­ball New Zealand.

Betsy Bishop, who was ac­knowl­edged by speak­ers at the cer­e­mony as the driv­ing force be­hind the project, said it was a proud day for her fam­ily.

‘‘[My son] Te Wera, who signed with the Bos­ton Red Sox in 2011 and just re­cently with the Mil­wau­kee Brew­ers, at­tended this kura from 2003 to 2007,’’ she said.

‘‘ He had three broth­ers who at­tended this kura, too, and we al­ways wanted to give some­thing back. Now we can and help a sport that is grow­ing in this coun­try.’’

Bishop said a pro­fes­sional clinic hosted by the fledg­ling Porirua Bombers base­ball club last month at Wai­hora Park, and at­tended by scouts and base­ball coaches, showed off the raw tal­ent that was in Porirua.

It pro­vided her with the im­pe­tus to de­velop a base­ball pro­gramme at Te Kura Maori o Porirua, which will be­come part of the cur­ricu­lum.

It is be­lieved to be the first such pro­gramme in the coun­try.

‘‘ We can de­velop play­ers, coaches, scor­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors – the list goes on,’’ she said. ‘‘ The vi­sion for this sport starts here.’’

For­mer ma­jor league base­ball pitcher Danny Car­rasco, now an am­bas­sador for the sport, holds clin­ics and works in schools in out­posts like New Zealand to foster in­ter­est in base­ball.

‘‘In New Zealand, you are nat­u­ral ath­letes and you play four or five sports grow­ing up,’’ he said.

‘‘Here, at this school, there is a pro­gramme that will al­low kids to get to know base­ball and maybe ben­e­fit from the op­por­tu­ni­ties it brings over­seas.

‘‘The path­way could begin here and maybe we will see more Ki­wis on TV play­ing in the ma­jor leagues [of base­ball] in fu­ture.’’

Te Wera Bishop, who hopped on a plane for Mil­wau­kee’s spring train­ing camp last week, said a base­ball di­a­mond in the heart of eastern Porirua was a huge deal and a bless­ing.

‘‘I’m re­ally ex­cited,’’ he said. ‘‘This is a big deal for base­ball in New Zealand and opens up the kura and Porirua to the sport.

‘‘I had no ex­po­sure to the game when I was pri­mary school age, but I hope other schools fol­low the kura and look at base­ball as an op­tion.’’

Porirua City coun­cil­lor Izzy Ford said sport was of­ten the best way to in­stil solid val­ues in chil­dren and the eti­quette of base­ball was full of lessons about re­spect and how to win and lose well.

Wel­come: A group, in­clud­ing Te Wera Bishop (grey T-shirt) and for­mer pro­fes­sional pitcher Danny Car­rasco (white T-shirt) take part in the bless­ing of the new base­ball di­a­mond.

Star power: Te Wera Bishop, a catcher bound for the base­ball’s big leagues in the United States, threw some pitches and showed off his hit­ting skills at the kura.

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