Cambodian Baseball Federation publishes a complete schedule including annual league and province tournament as well as dates for national team training and tryouts among events
CAMBODIAN Baseball Federation (CBF) President Joe Cook, who lives and works as a chef in Alabama and who makes establishing baseball in Cambodia his life pursuit, has emailed the Post an extensive calendar listing upcoming events organised by the Federation.
First up was the return of the Cambodian national teams to training July 25 that saw 118 baseball hopefuls turn up at Baribo ballpark, near Kampong Chhnang Saturday to tryout for squads.
Of the players that attended, 57 were chosen to stay on for further training, although this number is likely to drop to 20-30 over the few next weeks as funds run low.
Coaches bring technology
A big boost for the development of the national league is the August 1 arrival of five American coaches from Oregon, who will stay in Baribo village for five days, or possibly more, bringing technical equipment such as laptops and digital cameras to help players improve their hitting, pitching and fielding.
Also planned is to send Cambodian coaches and umpires to different schools to help train students and popularise the game. Currently, the federation has 11 former players that have retired. Five are to be chosen to become national team coaches, while the remaining six will take up other roles in the federation, such a management staff.
Players divide into three
The players will keep training until September 14, when they will be drafted into three separate teams of 15, based in either Baribo, Kampong Thom or Kampong Speu.
The Baribo ballpark has received significant upgrades such as extra batting nets, dugout and pitching mound renovation, replacement roof for the clubhouse and a grass-trimming for the entire field, not an simple task without a mower.
Kampong Speu ballpark is the newest addition to the baseball setup, with owner Kevin Kim promising completion in early November.
Pakistan event 80 percent
From August 23-28, the Asian Baseball Federation (BFA) are scheduled to hold a South and West Asian Cup competition in Lahore, Pakistan. Nations slated to participate in the event include Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, as well as the hosts. However, in light of the recent terrorist attacks there, the BFA have yet to decide whether it is a safe venue, and Cook suggested the competition has around an 80 percent chance of going ahead.
October 5 sees exhibition games in prelude to the start of the Major league season on October 12, with the Little League and Youth League seasons also starting two days later. Cook has stressed an emphasis on developing these leagues to develop future talent for the national team and major league. All games are to be played at Baribo, although it is unclear if they will follow a regular schedule, and the season ends next February.
A trip to Vietnam and an invitation to the Malaysian team, whom Cambodia historically beat 20-8 in the Asian Baseball Cup May 28, has been discussed for October, although not confirmed.
The CBF's event of the year is the province tournament, held November 23-27. Cook declares this year's competition, now in its sixth edition, as the biggest in the federation's history, which conincides with the CBF's seven-year anniversary.
Despite the Baribo team's having won all of the previous tournaments, a team from Banteay Meanchey are apparently set to steal the crown.
The federation are yet to decide upon the exact details of the tournament, although an August 12 meeting in the residence of Nhem Thavy, the Kampong Thom-based federation official, is set to help clarify rules and regulations amongst the teams. The meeting will also be attended by members of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport and the National Olympic Committee.
Not safe to visit, says Cook
Cook mentioned briefly by phone about the contempt that meets him when he travels to Cambodia, citing animosity from other sports federation officials over his occupancy, rather than a Cambodian's, of the CBF presidency. "There are many people that really hate me," said Cook, hinting that his life is in danger each time he visits his homeland. "But I will die for my love of baseball," he declared.
Cook stated that he will not allow corruption to plague his federation by allocating a Cambodian dignitary as president, although he said the reason officials are so angry with him is that they believe he is using the federation to extort money himself. "Why would I do that?" complained Cook. "Its my hard-earned money in the first place that funds the federation."
One hopes Cook would consider relinquishing his position as president to a suitable candidate to appease the federations and ministries, and thus allow him to concentrate on daily happenings as a general secretary.
With the CBF desperate for sponsorship and funding in what has proved to be an expensive pastime, Joe Cook needs to attract all the help he can get.
"People can donate anything," he said eagerly. "Even a hundred dollars will buy an advertising spot on the shirts. Everything helps [our cause]."
Currently, the CBF rely on Cook's private funding and various donations from baseball federations around the globe, including the US Major League and the Japanese Baseball Federation.