Youngsters from Central Andros happy to be playing baseball
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — It’s been two years since Aliv and Freedom Farm ventured into Central Andros, looking to impact young lives with the introduction of a baseball component, and the reception has been tremendous.
In fact, the program has blossomed to the point where Central Andros was able to take a team to the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships that got underway at the Emera Baseball Complex in Freeport, Grand Bahama, over the long holiday weekend.
Competing in the tough 16-and-under (16U) division, they didn’t win any games, but just to see young men from that island participating in organized baseball activities was a blessing for many. They lost all of their games convincingly, but there’s little doubt that they’ve come a long way in two short years, and the sky is the limit for them.
“This was a great experience for us. For some of these guys, it was their first time playing organized baseball and they loved it,” said Central Andros Team Manager Michael Miller. “The resources are really not available to them, but their heart and determination really impressed us. We wanted to expose them to something great, and they got that this weekend.
“Freedom Farm has been awesome to us and their support really helped us. Also, local government and the [Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture] stepped up and helped us and we are really appreciative of that. There were some community businesses that stepped in, persons stepped in and churches stepped in. The support was just tremendous. It’s truly been a blessing.”
According to Miller, the introduction of baseball in Central Andros has impacted that entire community. He said that boys of all ages are playing baseball, and some of the girls are getting involved as well. Churches, schools, local businesses and community organizations have all come on board. Miller knows that they have a long way to go to get to the level of other top programs in the country such as Freedom Farm, the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN), the Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) and the Legacy Baseball League, but he and others are prepared for the challenge.
“There are a lot of things we have to work on – fundamentals and teaching them the game of baseball,” he said. “Considering how the season went, there really wasn’t much time but we did as best as we could with them. Once the guys start understanding the fundamentals of the game, and they are willing to put in the work and come together with a sense of urgency, you’ll see some great things from Central Andros. We really believe that.”
Sometimes lopsided losses in sports could have an adverse effect on athletes and their teams, but Miller said they were just happy to be playing in organized competition. He said they enjoyed the competition and will certainly look to returning to the baseball nationals next year.
“We from ‘The Big Yard’ so it takes a lot to rattle us. This is small things to us,” he said. “I told one of the coaches to don’t play around with us – beat up on us. We’re from the bush. We came from a long way, and we intend to keep working. We’ve been taking a lot of beating, and we’re still surviving. This will only serve to make us stronger,” he added.
The young players from Central Andros play baseball at Queen’s Park in Fresh Creek, Central Andros. Miller said they are looking forward to having an improved facility sometime in the not too distant future.
Two divisions were contested at the nationals this past weekend, and there was an exhibition in another.
Freedom Farm won the 16-and-under (16U) division and the Grand Bahama Little League took the 18-and-under (18U) division. Tee Ball (six-and-under) ran as an exhibition between Freedom Farm, two teams from the Grand Bahama Little League and a team from the Legacy Baseball League, and the other divisions will be contested over the next three weeks in Eleuthera and New Providence.
The popular 12-and-under (12U) division will take place in Eleuthera from June 20-23, and the eight-and-under (8U), 10-and-under (10U) and 14-and-under (14U) divisions will be determined in New Providence between the Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) Field of Dreams Complex and the Freedom Farm Baseball League (FFBL) Park, from June 27-30.
The winner of the 12U Division at the nationals will represent The Bahamas at the Little League Caribbean and Latin American Championships, from July 13-20, in Willemstad, Curacao. The winner of that tournament will advance to the Little League World Series, from August 15-25, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting