Thrilling times as our youngsters take on the world
24 June 2015
The next eight weeks will be a momentous time for under-aged baseball, with three Australian teams participating in major international tournaments in Asia and United States.
Sydney team Cronulla - the national Little League champion - is bound for the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania at the end of August, just weeks after Perth outfit Swan Hills has represented Australia at the Cal Ripken World Series in Maryland USA.
In an initiative that has potentially far-reaching and lasting significance for Australian baseball, we will for the first time be sending a squad to the Under 12 World Cup in Chinese Taipei at the end of July. It will be - for us – a ground breaking occasion that Head Coach Brian Murphy describes as “a massive opportunity.”
Australian Baseball Alumni congratulates the players and officials of all teams on achieving the wonderful opportunity of representing Australia at international baseball tournaments. We wish all squads the very best in their preparations over coming weeks and of course for a thrilling, successful and memorable tournament experience.
While Australia has previously been represented at the Cal Ripken World Series and the Little League World Series – both iconic events in the baseball world – this will be the first time that our nation has participated in the biennial IBAF Under 12 World Cup since its inception in 2011.
The Under 12 World Cup is the only truly global event in this age group, one that will showcase the very best players who have been selected on merit from their prospective countries.
The Australian squad includes players from five states – ten of them from New South Wales, three from Western Australia, two from Queensland, two from South Australia and one from Victoria. AUSTRALIAN UNDER 12 WORLD CUP SQUAD
“It was a very hard process to select a team of players in this age group,” Head Coach and Alumni member Brian Murphy said. “To assist in the process, we contacted each state High Performance Manager for recommendations of players. Most of these players were involved with the Little League National Championship in Lismore recently and we were able to follow them there. For any other potential players we were relying on what the High Performance people had told us.”
“I believe that each state held some sort of trial, testing or discussion with Little League coaches. From all the information, we were able to select a team to the best of our ability,” he said.
Previously held in Taipei City on both occasions, the tournament has been won by Chinese Taipei (2011) and United States (2013), with world powerhouse baseball nations in Cuba, Japan and Venezuela unsurprisingly figuring among the placings.
This year scheduled for Tainan (Taiwan) from 24 July to 2 August, the World Cup has attracted teams from twelve nations sorted into two pools of six. Group A comprises Cuba, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Venezuela, Brazil and Russia. Drawn in Group B, Australia will face off against teams from Japan, defending champion United States, Mexico, Nicaragua and France.
The first stage of the tournament will be a single Round Robin in which each team plays the others in its group. The top three teams in each group will then progress to a Super Round Robin, with the bottom two teams in each group headed for playoff action to decide final placings.
Just a month out from the tournament, there is a mass of logistical detail that needs to be addressed, along with delivery of training schedules and preparation that will place our squad in the best possible position to do well.
“The team has just been announced, so it is difficult to assess the overall mood of the kids and their families at this point,” Brian Murphy said. “I will be in contact with each player and their parents over coming days. I am sure that they are absolutely thrilled as this will be their very first green and gold Australian cap. It is an absolute honour in any sport.”
“I am not sure just yet how many families will be travelling with us but I would assume – at such a young age – that most parents would be coming to Taiwan in support.”
“As far as playing preparation is concerned, we have already set some processes in place,” he said. “In New South Wales the players will be training together and playing a three-game Super Series against the Cronulla team to assist in the preparation for both teams before they head overseas to their respective tournaments. This will be widely advertised and it will involve many fund-raising activities to assist all of the players in the squad.”
“The series is a fantastic initiative by Baseball New South Wales that will be promoted on their website and social media, through the Alumni group and elsewhere,” he said. “I believe there might already be a sponsor – which would be great news.”
“The players from the other states will be joining in with the high performance programmes in each of their respective states. We will be in constant liaison to monitor and assist in the preparation of all squad members.”
While the Under 12 World Cup squad will travel under the auspices of Baseball Australia, families will be required to make a financial contribution – offset to some degree, hopefully, by a number of fund-raising projects that are currently being organised.
Australian Baseball Alumni urges all interested parties to assist with fund-raising in such manners that they are able as a show of support and solidarity for our Under 12 World Cup squad, which is poised to take on the very best of its baseball peers in the world.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the kids to be exposed to playing baseball at a high level – effectively against the best of the best,” Brian Murphy said. “My goal is to ensure that the kids have fun, enjoy the experience and develop a better knowledge of where they need to be to compete against other countries.”
“This is the first time that Australia has played in an international competition at this age group. If we can ensure that the players go home with a committed goal to learn from the experience and to be better players, then we will all have done Australia proud.”
“We will give it our best, I have no doubt about that. But we also have to be realistic about the challenge,” he said. “If we can have enough success to help improve our IBAF world baseball ranking, then that will be a bonus.”
“We have a very hard draw, but on the flip side what a massive opportunity for our kids to play these teams. We will give it our best shot and see what happens.”
“The staff that are going away with this team are all very experienced in competing at international tournaments,” Brian Murphy said. “They are all very excited about the opportunity that Baseball Australia has given them. All of us are looking forward to meeting all of the players and going away together to represent Australia.”
“We look forward to assisting these boys on their journey towards being the best baseball players that they can be.”
Australian Baseball Alumni again extends its congratulations to all players, staff and officials who will be representing Australia at international tournaments during the weeks ahead. We encourage interested parties to support fund-raising projects dedicated to assist our young players with their baseball experiences and their sporting development.
For the Under 12 World Cup we hope to provide day-by-day reporting, images and interviews – both prior to and during the tournament.