Local sport

Financial constraints is the Achilles heel of Palm Ridge Baseball Club

"We need sponsors. We are always looking at other clubs to help us."

Playing organised baseball has made a difference in the lives of seventy children in Palm Ridge, where the sport is among the dominant codes.

This is according to Palm Ridge Baseball Club chairperson Tracy Okes.

Despite the socio-economic issues in this Alberton township, it has taken creativity and passion to keep the club alive while running on a shoestring budget or with no money.

Watching the U15 and U12 teams compete at the provincial showcase at Benoni Northerns on January 22 displayed how far they could have been in the sport if they had resources.

Dressed in their blue tops and white trousers while sharing the handful of bats at their disposal, they showed passion and determination and went pound for pound with their well-resourced opponents.

Started in 2013 by softball enthusiast Lesiba Ramoroka, Palm Ridge Baseball Club has made an impact on a lot of children’s lives, some of whom have travelled abroad to represent the country at WBSC tournaments.

Budgetary constraints, no parental involvement and community participation in the sport are the Achilles heel of the club.

The Easterns Baseball Association chipped in with playing equipment and other essentials. According to Okes, while they appreciate their assistance, it is not enough as the club needs a sponsor to run efficiently.

“A lot of these players come from single-parent households. We need transport money and meals for them. We are always looking at other clubs to help us with lunch and transport.

“We need a sponsor. We have talented and committed players, some of whom have earned national caps despite our circumstances,” Okes said.

Despite their commitment and passion, Okes added they’ve endured an arduous nine years in attempting to keep the game alive in a township where carving a career in sport is an afterthought.

Their training sessions are on a field, which is shared with a soccer club, without a pitcher’s mound, bases, infield or backstop.

“The ground has rocks, is not level and has no shade. We need a proper piece of ground to train on,” Okes said.

Their lack of a match venue means they can’t host matches and their parents can’t watch them play as they have to travel to different venues.

“We don’t get much from SASCOC. We need to develop our own funding streams. We are trying to attract a national sponsor,” said Gauteng Province Baseball Council (GPBC) president Dean McKinnon.

“We help Palm Ridge with meals and transport. Not only that, but we also teach them life skills.

“We aim to take the children off the streets. We are giving them a space where they can express themselves and play without being taunted by gangsters,” McKinnon said.

Also Read: Cardinals to host national baseball games

Also Read: Players showcase their baseball skills at JENS Tournament


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