By Joseph Ondiek
Baseball, a bat-and-ball sport is a known national pastime of the United States. It derives its name from the four bases that form a diamond (the infield) around the pitcher’s mound.
According to Encyclopaedis.com, popularity has been spreading in recent decades, but it spread to a number of countries (Cuba, Japan) in the 1860s and 70s. The game is followed with fervent interest in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, other Caribbean countries, and elsewhere.
However, the sport’s popularity has remained in obscurity in most African countries despite its development.
In Rwanda, this is projected to change with the establishment of Friends of Baseball, an umbrella body consisting of baseball coaches, its enthusiasts, and people who love the sports to promote the development of baseball in the country.
According to Eric Mugisha, the coordinator of Friends of Baseball, they are targeting everybody, including schools and their major aim is to ensure that in a few years’ time baseball is going to be among the most recognized sports in Rwanda.
“It’s sad that when a number of tourists visit the country and ask where they can play baseball, their questions are always met with mute response. Baseball in Rwanda is unrecognized almost by everybody as a sport,” says Mugisha.
But Friends of Baseball, he says, is out to change this perception. “We have already coordinated purchase of playing kits that we are distributing to various schools since we believe when we want to popularize the game for future generation, we should start with students,” he adds.
He says the aim of Friends of Baseball is not only to popularize the game in Rwanda to make it more popular but also to see its development as a popular game that any person with talent in it can participate.
“Baseball is a popular game that’s played in high schools around the world and we asked ourselves, why not Rwanda? That’s why we came up with the idea to promote the development of this game in the country,” he adds.
He says Friends of Baseball are involved in coordination of supply of equipment to schools and playing centers, promoting basic knowledge about baseball to a wider population and creating a baseball environment where any person with interest can participate.
Formed last year, Friends of Baseball has so far managed to market the game on social media and managed to organize for the purchase of expensive baseball kits, through donations from well-wishers that they’re distributing to various schools.
Mugisha also says they are already engaging all the stakeholders, including embassies, expatriates, and tourism industry players to help promote the game in the country.
He adds that their other aim is to establish a championship where teams can compete and also to help develop students’ interest in baseball.
Joseph Ondiek @theinspirerpubl