West Portland baseball team returns more experienced from international tourney
DESPITE being outclassed at the recently concluded Little League Baseball International Latin American Regionals in Panama, manager Damion Thomas is content with the performance of the West Portland team that represented Jamaica.
The 12-member team ranging from ages 14-16, along with their coaches and managers, returned to the island on Monday with a sense of humility, having learnt a lot from their more superior opponents Puerto Rico and the host nation.
"This is the first time we are entering this age-group league and we did ourselves proud. The teams that we went up against have been playing for a long time and we, practising by ourselves and entering a competition against well-prepared teams, I think we did exceptionally well," Thomas told the Jamaica Observer at the Norman Manley International Airport.
Thomas added that the experience for the senior league team was utterly different from their previous outings, due to the breakdown of the organisation, which meant they had to acclimatise to the change of location late on.
"We are going back to the drawing board and come back good next time," he said.
Captain Trey Gavin also analysed the campaign as a learning experience for the young team.
"It was a good experience for me and the boys; it was our first time entering a competition like this; we trained hard, but there are certain things that we never had that the other teams had.
"They had better technique than us as a result of them playing the game more because it is a national sport for them. So there is a lot that we gained from the experience. We watched the other teams play and we are going to incorporate that in the way we play and build from there," said the 16-year-old.
Donovan Corcho, who is the baseball director at the Institute of Sports (Insports), deemed the trip a success, as it was for the youngsters to gain exposure.
"This was more of a trip for exposure... exposure for the players, the programme and the sport in Jamaica, and looking at it from that perspective I think you would have to call it a success," he explained.
Meanwhile, Leon Taylor, who is the president of the Jamaica Little League Baseball and Softball Incorporation, which is affiliated with the Little League Baseball International situated in Williams Port, Pennsylvania, USA, believes that the team will get better in the future.
"It is not always about winning, for some of these boys it is going to be a life-changing experience, but each year they compete they will get better. Their skills set will improve as time goes by, so give us another five years or so and we will be competitive."
Assistant District Administrator Gary Sewell, who is also a part-time scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club, is also pleased with the team's performance, even though he thinks they didn't perform to their full potential.