U-12 team raise their game

Young base­ball players all set for overseas com­pe­ti­tion, writes TYLER ROODT

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

AN ALL-STAR line-up of young base­ball players from all over the coun­try will soon be head­ing to Tainan, in Tai­wan, to show the world South Africa’s prow­ess on the pitch.

The South African na­tional un­der-12 base­ball team, con­sist­ing of players from the Western Cape and Gaut­eng, will com­pete in the World Base­ball Soft­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (WBSC) 2017 World Cup at the end of next month.

The open­ing round will see them com­pete against teams from Chi­nese Taipei, the Czech Repub­lic, Ja­pan, Mex­ico and Brazil. The 18 players were hand-picked from their re­spec­tive pro­vin­cial teams by var­i­ous coaches.

Na­tional as­sis­tant coach Quin­ton Amos said: “They have all played un­der their own pro­vin­cial ban­ners… but never on a na­tional level.”

Week­end Ar­gus chat­ted with two players ahead of their trip. David Botes, 12, from Bel­lville, and Zach Moses, 11, from Kens­ing­ton both said they were ex­tremely ex­cited about go­ing abroad.

“This has been my dream ever since I started play­ing base­ball,” Zach said, adding that the two-day se­lec­tion camp was a gru­elling process.

For David, while the con­stant prac­tice ses­sions took a strain on him, he per­se­vered. “Even if you go down in the game, the game isn’t over yet,” he said.

The team’s head of del­e­ga­tion, Rae Ripepi, who will ac­com­pany the team to Tai­wan, said it was eas­ier for the un­der-12s to fo­cus on prac­tice and the game, com­pared to older players. “There are no girls to chase, so fights never hap­pen,” Ripepi said.

She said two pre­vi­ous un­der-12 players, in­ter­na­tional pro-base­ballers, Gift Ngoepe and Dy­lan Unsworth, were role mod­els.

Ngoepe re­cently be­came the first African-born player to play in the Ma­jor League, with the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates.

Ripepi said the un­der-12 team had much to be proud of. “To play on an in­ter­na­tional level be­fore even reach­ing one’s teenage years is no small achieve­ment,” she said.

The team are due to leave on July 25.

PIC­TURES: DENZIL MARGELE

David Botes, sec­ond from right in the first row, is head­ing to Tai­wan with his base­ball team.

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