Japan to build first-ever baseball ground in South Asia at Homagama

Sri Lanka aims to host 2013 SAARC Baseball Tournament


by Madura Ranwala

Ambassador of Japan, Nobuhito Hobo(extreme left) and chairman Mahinda Rajapaksa Sports Development Foundation (MRSDF), Musthaque S. Mohamed, sign the contract to build the baseball ground at Homagama, at the residence of the Japanese Ambassador in Maitland Crescent, Colombo, yesterday.
(Pix by Darmadasa Welipitiya)

Japan, in a massive project to develop baseball infrastructure in Sri Lanka and in view of spreading the sport among students and youth in Sri Lanka, has come forward to construct a fully equipped baseball ground in Sri Lanka at Homagama. This will be the best baseball ground in the South Asian region after completion and the venue will host the SAARC Baseball Tournament in 2013.

The signing of the contract for the project took place between Ambassador of Japan, Nobuhito Hobo and the chairman of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Sports Development Foundation (MRSDF), Musthaque S. Mohamed, at the residence of Japanese Ambassador, Maitland Crescent, Colombo, yesterday.

Japan granted Sri Lanka with US$ 111,607 (approximately Rs. 12 million) to Mahinda Rajapaksa Sports Development Foundation through which the project will be implemented. This is solely founded by Grant Assistance for Cultural Grassroots Projects (GCGP) of the Government of Japan.

Japan in its solidarity with Sri Lanka has undertaken many development projects in the south Asian nation in various capacities for the past 60 years. And now they have taken a great deal of interest in developing baseball in Sri Lanka, a sport similar to ‘Elle’ where youth in rural areas of Sri Lanka play. Baseball is a sport extremely popular in Japan like cricket in Sri Lanka.

Nobuhito Hobo addressing the media briefing yesterday, said, "Being a baseball loving country, Japan has supported the promotion of baseball in Sri Lanka since 2002 by assigning Japan Overseas Volunteers (JOCV) as coaches to the Sri Lanka Amateur Baseball/Softball Association (SLABSA), resulting in the sport gaining popularity in Sri Lanka. Successive Japanese baseball coaches have worked hard during the past decades to enhance the baseball skills of Sri Lankan players. I am pleased to know that Sri Lanka now has a national baseball team and that baseball has reached the level of international competition and Sri Lanka is ranked 32nd amongst 72 countries as in 2011".

He further added, "Sri Lankan teams have already participated at international level such as the Asian Cup Championship in Thailand in 2009, the 5th World University Baseball Championship in Japan in 2010, the youth Baseball Championship in Japan in 2011 and the SAARC Baseball Championship in Pakistan in 2011. However, owing to the lack of facilities such as the need for a suitable baseball ground, Sri Lanka baseball has not been able to reach the highest level in the sport. Therefore Japan is happy to promote baseball in Sri Lanka".

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