Fam­ily pitches in to grow young soft­baller’s tal­ent

Bush Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVE MUR­DOCH

Jachan Roberts can’t wait to put the sil­ver fern on and to run out to rep­re­sent New Zealand this week in his cho­sen sport of soft­ball.

He is play­ing for the NZ Un­der 15 De­vel­op­ing Sox in the Un­der 17 Queens­land State Cham­pi­onships at Cairns on Septem­ber 22-24 against other Aus­tralian State teams.

Jachan is the first Manawatu¯ player to rep­re­sent NZ in soft­ball for 20 years and at just 15 he has a huge fu­ture in the sport.

Soft­ball is in Jachan’s blood, many of his fam­ily go­ing back sev­eral gen­er­a­tions hav­ing been heav­ily in­volved in re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tive teams, es­pe­cially in the Waikato — the pow­er­house of NZ soft­ball.

Jachan has had a mitt in his hand just about all of his life, hav­ing rep­re­sented Manawatu¯ at a na­tional tour­na­ment since the age of nine.

He plays for the Huia Soft­ball Club in Palmer­ston North, train­ing ev­ery Tues­day night af­ter school­ing at Palmer­ston North Boys High where he is a Year 11 stu­dent.

For his club Jachan has worked his way through the grades un­til now he plays in the se­nior men’s Huia Chiefs which won last year’s com­pe­ti­tion with a spec­tac­u­lar dou­ble play in­volv­ing Jachan in the fi­nal.

Train­ing is a huge com­mit­ment as he com­mutes daily from his home in Woodville to school with grand­par­ents Marty and Gale pro­vid­ing the trans­port af­ter prac­tices. Dena, his mum, said with­out her par­ents she could not have man­aged.

This is the first time Jachan is rep­re­sent­ing New Zealand. Rep­re­sent­ing Manawatu¯ at the na­tion­als in Hataitai early in the year, he was fourth top bat­ter and first in the RBIs (Run­ners bat­ted in) from which he earned a place in the NZ Un­der 15 train­ing camp and con­firmed his se­lec­tion in April.

Jachan said the train­ing camp was awe­some and he learnt so much.

“It took soft­ball to a new level,” he said. He is no stranger to the top lev­els of the sport, hav­ing at­tended sev­eral NZ Un­der 23 train­ing ses­sions in the Hutt Val­ley and has wit­nessed the top men in ac­tion at the North Is­land v South Is­land cham­pi­onships.

Jachan will be play­ing the crit­i­cal sec­ond base and cen­tre po­si­tions for New Zealand but he also pitches and catches for Manawatu¯ at the re­gion­als, show­ing his ver­sa­til­ity. He has a bul­let throw, the re­sult of both nat­u­ral phys­i­cal strength and long hours of train­ing.

He and his fam­ily have been busy rais­ing funds to travel and have reached the re­quired $4000 mark with help of a dona­tion from Manawatu Soft­ball of $500 and the Tararua District Coun­cil In­ter­na­tional Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Scheme of $500.

Jachan says be­ing part of the NZ team has taught him so much and can­not wait to put into prac­tice the “soft­ball smarts” he has learnt from his coach.

Fif­teen-year-old Jachan Roberts stands ready for a throw at home in Woodville. He can’t wait to rep­re­sent NZ in the U15 De­vel­op­ing Sox in Cairns this week.

Mums al­ways stand be­hind their sons — in this case Dena is catcher as Jachan pre­pares to belt a home run.

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