Northern Marianas: Saipan Baseball League
The Way I See It
The Way I See It!
Hello everyone thought I would put pen to paper and share my view with you on the current status of BCO Oceania Tournaments. At the current time the BCO has three Oceania Tournaments, the AA (under 16), AAA (under 19) and open age level. There have been discussions on a 12 and under category but at the present time that level is left to each country. Well that is the age group I want to share my view on. It is my opinion that the 12 and under age group is where the process of developing a pathway needs to start and the reason on why should be obvious to all of us. It is at the 12 and under age group where the introductory level of T-Ball or coach pitch is has a player, coach and official get their first experience with baseball and in my opinion is the level that needs to be the starting pathway to encourage not only grassroots development but also high performance development. There are two reasons for this, the first is to provide a place for those who only want to participate at a recreational level, which is where we all start from and the second is to provide a pathway for those who want to participate at a more competitive level.
Yes it is true that the more competitive level could be having an all-star team and play within their own country or do as is currently done and have an all-star team that will participate in the Pacific Regional Little League Championship. The problems that are encountered are, travel expense and in Little League it is not a true National Team but an all-star team made up of the players from that league, so in the countries of Australia, Guam and New Zealand where there is more than one Little League association only the players from the association that won the regional tournament would be allowed to take the next step which would be to play in the Pacific Regional Championships and that is if the country has the funds to pay for the airfares and other related expenses to sending a team. Now the good news is if you win the Pacific Regional Championship Little League pays all your expenses to attend the World Series for each age category and Little League goes to under 19.
For sure just being able to play this great game should be reason enough to stay involved but unfortunately with so many sporting choices for the youth we all need to take the initiative and develop pathways that will encourage not only growth of baseball within each of our member countries but also growth within the region.
What I have suggested to the BCO Executive is that the BCO sponsor one age group from the selection that we have. By sponsoring I mean that the BCO Executive and Development Officer develop a strategy/financial plan that will allow all of the member countries to attend at an affordable cost to them, we need all of our member countries to attend, not just the ones who have the funds. I think it is important to remember that the majority of our island members have an economic situation where raising the full funds would be very difficult, especially when the hourly wage is around $1.75 per hour, it can’t be free but it must be affordable.
It is my opinion that on a regular basis the BCO needs every active member country to attend at least one Oceania Championship and I have a few reasons for this;
- The attending participants can be exposed to the benefits and excitement of playing in an international tournament.
- Coaches and managers can sit down and discuss ideas of how they can develop pathways within their own countries.
- Youth that have received this opportunity can get an excitement for the game and want to continue playing and striving for excellence.
- Our region can develop at a faster rate, especially at the youth level and in the south.
- All of our members develop a better understanding of what is needed for baseball to grow and develop within our region and this will be a first hand learning experience for all of us.
- Encourage all of our members to continue to strive for excellence and assist with developing pathways for all participants.
- Having visible pathways will encourage the participants to not only stay involved but also allow them to see that there are opportunities for staying involved, this is important especially for our island members.
The IBAF has just recently developed a 12 and under World Championship Tournament and in fact it was played for the first time last year in Taiwan. Because of the IBAF insight to development at this age group it is my opinion that the BCO should follow their lead and focus on the 12 and under age group.
The purpose for picking the 12 and under division is that is the level that needs the most attention in our region if development is our main concern. The BCO needs to be the leaders in developing pathways for players and that pathway needs to start at the youngest possible age so that players, coaches and officials can see the benefit of getting involved with youth development. At the current time most of our members have youth programs but not many of those programs offer a pathway to get the participants from one step to the next.
The reasons for lack of involvement with a youth program can vary and although I don’t agree with many of those reasons I do understand the reason to have visible pathways because it was those visible pathways that have kept me involved with baseball from the age of 10 years to the present time. When I first started playing this game that has become my passion, knowing there was a pathway to follow as I developed my skills kept the fire lit and kept me striving toward the ultimate goal of becoming the best I could be which was ultimately a professional player. It is my opinion that the BCO needs to create those same kinds of pathways and perhaps light a few fires along the way, at least that’s the way I see it.