Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

US Embassy will not provide baseball facility for Nigeria – Brooks

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By Amaechi Agbo

The United States of America, USA Embassy in Nigeria has stated that it is not her responsibility to provide baseball facilities for the country.
The Embassy’s Information Officer, Mr Russels Brooks, disclosed this yesterday at the baseball pitch in Abuja while playing host to Mr Jeremy Guthrie, a former Major League baseball player, who is in Nigeria to train baseball players.
Mr Brooks stated that it is not the responsibility of the US Embassy to provide baseball facility for the country adding that facility provision is the duty of the states or government. He however added that his country through the US Embassy can only provide instructions and direction for the growth of the game in the country.
“We know few days ago that there is a great deal of interest in baseball sport in Nigeria and it was very pleasing to us. We thank the local partner, the Baseball Tomorrow Academy, which is working very hard to promote baseball throughout Nigeria. We have worked with them over the year covering programmes in different states and we have seen the enthusiasm among Nigerian youths and we believe it will be very important for us to try and help them in any way we can.
“We are very fortunate to have Jeremy Guthrie, a Major League player agreeing to come here to Nigeria to help improve Baseball Tomorrow Academy and to promote the sport here in Nigeria. We believe that if Nigerians continue to work hard, they have a great future in the sport,” the information officer said.
On how the Embassy would help in providing facility for the growth of the game in Nigeria, Mr Brooks replied: “We don’t deal on facilities. That is something that others will have to do. What we do is to introduce the game, provide instructions – which are what Jeremy Guthrie is here to do – but facilities are not something for the Embassy to do. I think it is for states and governments who should have interest in the game. I believe they will look for a way to provide infrastructure for the game.
“What is required to do well in this sport is commitment. It takes patience and team work. The kids are going to learn those things today which will help them in their careers whether it is short or long term career. They will also figure out those values that are also important for them in life no matter what they do to be able to work as a team – to respect leadership, show determination and commitment. Those were the things that will help them no matter what they chose to do in their lives.”
On his part, Mr Jeremy Guthrie, said that this was the first time he was coming to Africa but expressed his delight over the enthusiasm of the students.
“This is my first time in Africa. I have the opportunity to come here because the Major League Baseball Association reached out to me and said the US department for sports diplomacy is looking for a player to come here and teach the game to the kids here in Nigeria. I was very excited and here I am. Mr Jeremy Guthrie coaching some of the students who are 60 in number.
“I played 15 years of professional baseball with different clubs in the Major League like Cleveland; I played 5 seasons with Baltimore Onioles; half a season with Colorado Rockies, three and half season with Kansas City royals and in 2017 I played one season with Washington Nationals.
“Baseball is a wonderful sport and is played throughout the world. I have to be honest; I never knew it is played here in Nigeria so I was pleasantly surprised to learn that. I have seen teams like Uganda and Kenya and I can see the game is improving in Africa. One of the things I have learnt about baseball is that it is very challenging. Just like life, it is full of failures but you must keep moving if you need to achieve success/ you have to be focused and determined to work it out. Baseball is a great sport and there are great things to learn from it and when that time comes, the kids are going to enjoy the game.
“I have retired but I still watch baseball on TV every day. I also enjoy playing it with my kids and friends.
“Everybody has what it takes to develop baseball. If you have interest, love and passion for the game, certainly, miracle can happen in anywhere. You have many players who are not deterred by their physical stature but they have the capabilities to become baseball players. It takes a lot of preparations from the coaches; a lot of desires and patience and with time, you will look back and say ‘wow, look at what we have become now.’
“I am hoping to meet the players, to see their level of response both from the players and the coaches. The coaches can help them in this sport specifically and in life. I want to have a positive interaction with them in the next four days and also impact them positively.
The coaches will be learning as well. It is necessarily intended for the players but I feel they will ask questions and they will be able to share the information with the players.
For now I am to stay for three days but one year or two years will be more helpful but it is better to have 2 to 3 days than to have no days.
The baseball training for over 60 kids is organized by Baseball Tomorrow Academy in partnership with the US Embassy. The training will continue till October 14 featuring an exhibition game.

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