by David Rhode
Last summer the Little League baseball team from Uganda captured their first victory in the regional qualifier to gain eligibility for the Little League World Series. However, due to an inability to provide proper documentation to the State Department, the group was not able to secure travel visas and could not come to Williamsport to play.
During this last year, the Uganda Little League has put the disappointment of the 2011 events behind them and set their sights once again on becoming the first African team to play in the Little League World Series. Just last week, Lugazi Little League from Lugazi, Uganda, won the Middle East and Africa regional Monday, 5-2 over Kuwait City LL from Kuwait.
Lugazi is located in the southeastern area of the landlocked country, about 31 miles east of the capital city of Kampala. The Lugazi LL is one of five chartered ones in Uganda, with four Little League Major Baseball Division teams, and four Junior League Baseball Division teams. There are more than 700 boys and girls playing Little League in Uganda.
Pitch In For Baseball’s interest in Uganda baseball is quite simple. We’ve provided equipment to them each of the last 5 years and nothing will make us prouder than to see them step on to the “big stage” in Williamsport about 1 month from now. Win or lose, that moment will be a victory for our organization and all of the kids we’ve ever assisted. For the 12 years olds from Lugazi, I can imagine it will be a moment they will never forget.
The kids from Uganda represent the essence of why our organization exists. They love the game, but due to lack of equipment and other resources, that passion could not fully be realized. Pitch In For Baseball is just one of the reasons they’ve made such rapid progress. Richard Stanley, a Staten Island NY native has spent nearly a decade of time and much of his own money to give them the place to play and to continue to advocate on their behalf. Richard is the head of Little League Baseball in Uganda and he too will realize a dream when the kids from Uganda step onto the fields of Williamsport.
When it comes to baseball in Africa, there are many hurdles. Hopefully for the kids from Lugazi, the trip to Williamsport is one they will clear.
by Tom Schoenfelder
Even though it’s the summer and while I wish I could be on a sunny beach in the Jersey shore, equipment still gets donated. Just because many leagues in the United States have conclude and have received their equipment for the year doesn’t mean we take a break. This is the time where a lot international programs receive equipment.
Some of our recent projects include programs in France, Poland, Ukraine, and Pakistan. While none of these countries would scream baseball juggernauts, it’s amazing to see that there is an interest to play. It is my dream some day to find out that one of the kids we helped in some far away land made it to the majors and did so because of Pitch In For Baseball.