picture: fuad esack
The Western Cape (WC) will be represented by youngsters taking part in the under-12, under-15 and under-18 age groups.
They will be up against strong opposition from the likes of hosts EasternCape(EC),Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) in the nationals.
The competition runs from Tuesday March 26 to Saturday March 30. The WC players — who come from the Cape Town Baseball Federation (CTBF), which represents the Cape Metro; Eden, which includes the likes of Knysna and George, and the Cape Winelands, which includes the likes of Paarl — had to go through a gruelling selection process to make the final WC squad.
Earlier this year, the Western Cape Schools’ Baseball Federation (WCSBF) hosted the provincial junior championships at Parktown sports complex in Athlone, where youngsters from these regions battled it out.
From that competition, the cream of the crop were selected to represent the Western Cape in the upcoming nationals. And, if what went down in Athlone at that weekend in January is anything to go by, then the Western Cape youngsters could be the team to beat come next week. They played baseball of highest quality, which surely caused some headaches for selectors as they tried to decided the final group.
WarrenManson,from Westridge, coaches the WC under-15 side.
He said going to this year’s nationals was a special occasion for everyone involved, especially considering it was the first time a team representing the whole of the Western Cape has been selected for the nationals.
“The teams going to this year’s competition are representative of the demographics of the province, as the players come from all our regions.
“They had to compete in a tough inter-district competition, out of which the final squads were selected,” he said.
Manshon also noted that the Western Cape team was made up of 50 players — 16 under-13, 16 under-5 and 18 under-18 members.
Looking ahead to the competition itself, Manshon said they were aware that things were going to be tough, but the team was ready for the challenge.
“The expectations are always high, and we are aiming for gold. Of course, it is not going to be easy. We know we are going to get stiff competition, especially from the provinces from the north,” he said.
“We are looking forward to the competition and hope the youngsters will go there and enjoy the competition,” he said.
Manshon also reflected on the standard of junior baseball in the Western Cape.
“Our long-term plan is to develop top baseball players, who will be able to compete internationally. And, with baseball back in the Olympics, we are also eyeing that too,” he said.