Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Foundations driving baseball development out West

Published:Monday | April 4, 2016 | 4:06 AMOkoye Henry
Youngsters practise newly learnt skills during the baseball training session in Negril.

The Andrew Dixon Foundation, which is on a mission to rejuvenate baseball in Jamaica, has gained some traction in the western end of the island through a partnership arrangement with he Negril Education Environment Trust (NEET) to host a series of exhibition games.

The first of the games was played last week at the Negril Police Station. It saw more than a dozen youngsters turning out to benefit from the expertise of local baseball coaches.

The Jamaican-born Dixon, who is a former baseball player with the United States; based San Francisco Giants and Winston Wellington, the chairman of NEET, along with other stakeholders from Negril, were in attendance at the launch.

"NEET is involved in just about anything that will help our country, especially in the Negril area, and we saw an opportunity with major baseball players to expand the sport," said Wellington, who is also the operator of Travellers Beach Resort.

PASS ON SKILLS

Wellington said the training of new coaches to pass on baseball skills in schools is also on the agenda. He said the Sheffield and Revival All Age Schools are both currently signed up to take part in the initiative and that over time, the institutions will be provided with the necessary equipment for the sport's development.

"We really want to make sure that we expose our children to the sport, giving them another option outside the usual cricket and football. Jamaicans excel in so many other sports so, why not baseball?" asked Wellington.

Dixon, who has spearheaded several baseball development programmes in Jamaica, said the partnership with NEET has also given birth to an upcoming baseball tournament, which is set to take place at the G.C. Foster College of Physical Education and Sport on April 16-17.

"There will be three teams from Westmoreland and another three in Kingston playing on the day,' said Dixon.

The foundation has operated baseball clinics and camps targeting young people in Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth; as well as Darliston and Little London, in Westmoreland.

The 51 year-old Dixon, who left the San Francisco Giants in 1991, was at one stage in his career a standout player with the Milwaukee Brewers. He has also played professional baseball in Mexico and Venezuela.