sports gazette

Richmond Baseball Coach Wants More Participation

Photo: Will Medlock
Published: 4 May 2015

A Richmond Baseball Club coach believes not enough is being done to encourage British children to take up the sport.

American-born Tony Oliva has raised concerns about the quality of young players born in this country, with many of the Great Britain players coming from America or Australia.

Oliva believes that the game’s governing bodies need to be doing more in order to see the sport’s participation levels rise in this country.

“One of the issues, I think, is that we need qualified coaches who know how to teach it,” he said.

“They need to know how to see what needs to be taught, know how to correct mistakes. I think the quality of coaching needs to be improved.”

 There are currently four leagues in the United Kingdom, comprising of sub-divisions dictated by geographic location.

However, Oliva believes that children must be encouraged from a young age if the number of divisions is to ultimately be increased.

If I can affect this in any way I would start it immediately

"Of course, Americans and Latinos have played baseball growing up, so those who are over here are naturally your better players," he said.

"What we need to do is develop our own children, develop them through the ranks so they can play for the national side."

The emergence of National Football League matches in the United Kingdom has helped capitalise on the potential for American football to grow in the country, with Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars among the recent visitors.

However, there appear to be no plans for Major League Baseball clubs to come to the country, although Oliva is prepared to take the initiative himself.

"If I can affect this in any way I would start it immediately," he said.

"I would get all our national players and put them in kit and go to schools to do demonstrations."

"I'd sign autographs and take photos and have our guys help train our youngsters from a young age and inspire them. Kids will respect that," he added.

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