New Delhi, July 24 (SocialNews.XYZ) Major League Baseball (MLB) on Friday will kick-off the 2020 season with the defending World Series Champions Washington Nationals taking on New York Yankees.
It also marks one year since the launch of the India Office for MLB which has made rapid strides to increase participation in the game, promoting the sport and league across the country.
MLB has so far conducted more than 320 workshops in schools across Mumbai, Delhi-NCR and Bengaluru as a part of its First Pitch Program. Over 30,000 children in the age group of 8-14 years have actively participated in these sessions.
"Outside of the USA, India is MLB's sixth international office. So you can imagine that MLB genuinely believes that the country has all the right ingredients as far as baseball development is concerned," Ryo Takahashi, head of business and commercial operations for MLB in India, said.
"Participation is equally important but without proper coaching, it is difficult for any sport to grow. Our MLB First Pitch program is directed at building participation, generating content for fans and further creating opportunities for young kids to learn the game," he added.
From April to July, MLB in association with India On Track (IOT), the Amateur Baseball Federation of India (ABFI) and the various state associations affiliated to ABFI have conducted online interactive coaching clinics for over 1,200 baseball participants.
Baseball senior players and coaches, who attended these sessions, hailed various states of the country.
"By the end of second week ofJuly, we did coaching clinics for over 1200 participants through these introductory online coaching sessions", David Palese, Head of Baseball Development in India, said.
"These sessions have enabled the coaches to continue their development from the comfort of their homes in the last three months. It gave them the opportunity to learn and interact with us.
"This initiative was conducted with the purpose of developing and engaging with Indian coaches and supporting baseball communities in India. It also enabled the coaches to know of, learn from and interact with each other," he added.
As MLB celebrates the ground covered this past year, it has outlined key plans for further growth of baseball in the country. These include on-field physical coaching clinics, collaborating with the national and the state baseball associations to conduct the sessions once the current health crisis is resolved.
"MLB has been involved with different forms of grassroots development work in India since 2003. Over the years, we have had numerous visits by MLB coaches in India who have conducted many sessions across the country," Harish Kumar, former player, coach & current Secretary of ABFI, said.
"Now that they have an office set up in India, we look forward to working closely with them to improve the standard of baseball in India. We have discussed various initiatives that shall be implemented soon.
"We have a lot of potential in India and opportunities like this will help baseball players and coaches to improve themselves," he added.