OTTAWA, ON – Since 2001, Canada has had the privilege of sending a small contingent of kids to a different country to take part in the experience that is the World Children’s Baseball Fair. This year, British Columbia has the honor of representing the country at the 19th edition of the fair.
The event, which will take place from July 28th to August 8th in Aichi, Japan, was founded by legendary sluggers Sadaharu Oh and Hank Aaron in the interest of promoting baseball and providing an opportunity to develop international relationships, goodwill and cultural understanding among the youth of the world.
In years past, the provinces selected to represent Canada at the event were only able to select five kids to go at the fair. This year, BC has the distinctive opportunity to send a team of 15 players over to Japan.
“We’re getting the unique chance of playing in an exhibition series with the other counties selected,” says David Laing, Program Director for Baseball BC. “We play each country once with the emphasis on having fun and not on winning, which I really appreciate.”
Player selection is divided into three, between BC Minor, Babe Ruth BC and Little League BC who will be selecting from each respective memberships to construct the team.
The associations asked each applicant to write a small essay along with their application form to explain why they would benefit from the experience of going to the WCBF. But Laing adds that they are not necessarily looking for the best players.
“We’re looking to send the kids who will benefit the most from this cultural exchange opportunity.”
There will also be three and not just one chaperone this year. Each association will send one chaperone to the event. Babe Ruth and Little League have yet to announce who they will send as chaperones, but BC Minor will send Mike Sarai, a long time volunteer with the association.
“We felt that this was an excellent opportunity to recognize some long standing volunteers and for someone who has given so much of their time, this is a tremendous reward for them,” says Laing.
This event will be a unique opportunity for the players and chaperones alike. Baseball is the foundation that will bring these people together, but they will have the chance to savour some diversity.
“I’m hopeful the kids will get to meet people from other countries and get to learn a little bit about the world. Also they will really get to see first hand and up close another culture and see how they go about their lives,” says Laing.
Each province will get a chance to represent Canada at the WCBF. Alberta, Saskatchewan, PEI, Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Manitoba have all represented Canada since 2001. Québec will get the honour next year with Nova Scotia to follow in 2010.