Baseball star excited to be back in the diamond

Nelson Mapika, left, and Quinton Amos in their WP colours during the 2019 national baseball champs, in Gqeberha.

Cape Town baseball is back on track following an absence of many months and one of the game’s loyal and long-serving servants is happy to be back in action.

Ask any baseball person about Nelson Mapika and they will tell you exactly who he is.

He is, after all, one of those multi-talented sports people who find it easy to wear many hats.

Besides playing for Battswood, in the Promotion league, the Philippi resident is also Cape Town Netball Federation (CTNF) chairperson – and those are only two of his roles.

Mapika, 32, said everything was looking good, especially on the baseball front until the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns.

He said that was a turning point for many sports. “Covid-19 really affected sports people around the world but baseball in South Africa really took a big knock. In 2019, for instance, we played in the Africa Olympic qualifiers and, I should say, that was the last baseball event that I played in. In 2020 we played our season but Covid 19 didn’t allow us to have our NBC (national champs). Having said that, I am just glad that we are playing again, since we didn’t play much baseball in 2020 and 2021.”

He was also quick to note that they, as baseball people, are still trying to find their feet, following the long layoff. “Most teams, for instance, are struggling to get their juniors back to baseball, even seniors as well. But, as I said, I am grateful that our season is up and running.”

With more than 20 years’ experience in the game, Mapika describes his “journey ” as great but full of ups and downs.

He said the fact that he started out way back in 1998 and still playing today is a blessing. “Being able to travel to countries like Japan because of baseball and playing for the national team in the Olympic qualifiers is one of the highlights of my baseball journey. What inspired me to play baseball in the first palace was that it was the only way for me to escape drugs, stealing and other things that are out there. My brother Stewart Mapika played a big role on my baseball journey because I followed his footsteps.”

Looking ahead, the ambitious Mapika says one of his short-term goals is to one day coach the SA junior sides. This, he said, was because his passion was to nurture and inspire young up-and-coming talent.

“My long term goals, I would say, is to have a sports academy, play baseball in Sweden and coach that side, and also revisit Japan for coaching purposes”.

Mapika said he wants to be remembered as that sports person who placed his community first in everything he did.To back his point, he counted some of the community initiatives he’s involved in. “I have a netball club that I started in 2014 and it is growing fast. Also, I am the chairperson of Southern Zone netball sub-district and vice-chairperson of Ward 88 Facility Management Committee (FMC). I recently got elected as chairperson for development for Cape town Netball Federation. I would like to be involved in more initiatives if chances present themselves to me.”