Two New Zealand baseball teams are preparing to depart for their respective world championships. Two of the biggest world events on the global baseball calendar.
Under the guidance of former Japanese national team and professional pitcher Naoyuki Shimizu, the New Zealand Under-15 team will play against the likes of Venezuela, the United States and Mexico at the U15 Baseball World Cup in Iwaki, Japan.
The U13 All-Star team will head off to the USA to play in the prestigious Cal Ripken World Series.
Baseball New Zealand CEO Ryan Flynn says, “Baseball has grown into a real cultural melting pot over the last few years.
This is probably the strongest group of young players, from the most diverse backgrounds, we’ve ever pulled together for these important tournaments.” Flynn mentioned that each team has representatives from across the nation, as well as Australia, and includes a surge of ballplayers represented Maori and Pacific Islander communities in the country."
Flynn adds that cultural diversity is visable amongst coaching staff. Former Japanese Olympian, Professional Pitcher and North Shore resident Naoyuki is leading the U15 team with fellow countryman and now North Shore resident Toshiki Nakao.
National coach Riki Paewai of Rangitane will also serve as the pitching coach for the team.
Both teams will meet at Lloyd Elsmore Park in Pakuranga this week for their final training camp before heading off to their respective events.
Ryan Flynn says, “We have made a conscious effort to build our game and promote it as a sport for all people, to make it accessible, affordable and welcoming."