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May 28, 2004

Competition fierce in primary school softball

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Sometimes when we read the headlines and watch the evening news, it’s easy to become depressed over what appears to be all the bad things happening to Belize’s children. And indeed, being a young Belizean appears to be an increasingly dangerous occupation. But despite the problems, the overwhelming number of our young people manage to grow up having as much fun as their counterparts anywhere in the world… As News 5′s Patrick Jones discovered this afternoon at Rogers Stadium.

Patrick Jones, Reporting

They may not be able to swing the bat with the poise and authority of their adult counterparts; but these primary school boys and girls still have what it takes to bring Rogers Stadium to life.

All Saints Primary and Wesley Upper Schools faced off in the championship game to decide who goes to the district final next week. Tournament Organiser Marvin Ottley says these games are important primers for the next generation of athletes.

Marvin Ottley, Tournament Coordinator

“It’s to give the primary-schoolers an opportunity to play their sport. And more so, it?s also to give the Sports Council a clear opportunity to help in the development of sport in any aspect possible.”

And that development will eliminate situations like this where Kassandra Guy hits a soft grounder which the Wesley pitcher Nyasha Rhys handles flawlessly, but the first base man is unable to complete the play.

While the Wesley coach tries to fire up his team, Alberta Bailey pushes this pitch right back up the middle. Before any of the outfielders could get the ball back to the diamond, Bailey had circled the bases for an inside the park homerun. At the end of the game, with an 11-1 victory under her belt, pitcher Audra McFadzean says, bring on the next team.

Audra McFadzean, Pitcher, All Saints Primary

“It was very hard against Wesley primary school. It was very hard.”

Patrick Jones

“Now what do you think you will find when you go the district finals against the rural schools?”

Audra McFadzean

“Well last year we went and it was very difficult to win.”

Patrick Jones

“Do you think you will win this year?”

Audra McFadzean

“Maybe.”

While McFadzean is guarded about her team?s prospects in the district finals, rookie coach Curt Thomas says a lot of preparation will go into the next seven days.

Curt Thomas, Head Coach, All Saints Primary

“Well we know we have to work harder for district finals, because district finals have teams that very hard to compete against. So we will have more intense practice and just work harder on our overall game. So we just will se what is the outcome of the game, we will try our best and just come out and play for the fun of the game.”

Ottley says that while teams coming out of the Cayo District have traditionally dominated the national primary schools championships, this year should be different.

Marvin Ottley

“And what I’m seeing out here, Belize City today, it’s not that far off, which means Belize City will have a good challenge coming up this weekend for their district finals. Which if you tie in everything together, the competitive level between both districts, it?s not that far off. Which means Cayo is not just going to run away with the tournament this year.”

But more than just high competition, Ottley says tournaments like this are fertile grounds to sow the seeds of good sportsmanship, which guarantees that everyone from the fans to the grounds keeper benefits.

Marvin Ottley

“I would say everybody on a high percentage, in regards to the children. They get a chance to play their tournament. But a lot of what we have seen is that some players from other sports do come over to other sports in regards to softball. The parent, the child, and more so the high-schoolers do benefit greatly from every program we run at the primary school level.”

Patrick Jones, for News 5.

Four of the eleven teams that originally entered the competition–two males and two females–dropped out. Ottley says the shortage of coaches at the primary school level is to blame, but a summer coaching workshop planned by the National Sports Council will seek to address that problem. The National championship will be held on the eleventh and twelfth of June in Belmopan.

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