Children’s Baseball in Cuba / Anddy Sierra Alvarez

First base

The categories of children’s baseball in Cuba are rescued by parents of the “little ballplayers” because, it seems, the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) has no resources to provide the necessary sports equipment.

The categories of 7-8 years and 9-10 years are supported by the parents of the child athletes, as long as INDeR doesn’t provide the minimum materials, such as: gloves, special balls, bats, among others. It doesn’t allow the development of Cuban baseball.

Rolando Suarez, a 45-year-old coach, spoke of the ingenuity required to get a result in competitions. “Thanks to the parents we can train the children, because INDER gives each school coach only one or two gloves, one bat and two Kenko balls, which last only four months. During the remaining 6 or 7 months, I have to ask the parents for help to continue to coach.”

According to some instructors, these categories have special rules, one of which regulates to the play to a solid rubber ball (known as Kenko), a different material from the balls for the older ages, which use synthetic materials. The Kenko balls cost about 300 pesos each.

Suarez also explained, “I have an enrollment of 20 students in the 7-8 category, and in 9-10 I have 19 students. What INDER gives me isn’t enough!”

Another children’s coach who asked to remain anonymous, explained that the lack of resources also hits the parents’ budgets, “Several students have left the sport because it’s very expensive.”

Michel Garcia, a 37-year-old father, commented, “My son has his sports uniform, glove and a bad thanks to me but not everyone can spend more than 2,500 pesos for these expenses.”

According to a methodologist in the capital municipality of 10 de Octubre, who is in charge of educating coaches and supervising the training with the purpose of ensuring good preparation, and who asked to remain anonymous, commented that everything the Municipal Sports Authorities delivered to the coaches, is usurped by them.

“They sell gloves, balls and bats to the parents of the students. It is a sport where the majority of the parents have money, and demand creates the market,” he said.

This methodologist continued, explaining that many parents have complained to the Municipal Sports Authority in 10 de Octubre, about the conditions for the children playing baseball, a sport supposedly prioritized in Cuba.

So far, the conditions don’t seem to change. Coaches like Racel Perez, 28, consider another option, “I have to coach a different sport,” he laments.

From Anddy’s blog, previously published in Cubanet

23 March 2015