Family pitches in to grow young softballer’s talent
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.