14ymedio, Havana, November 20, 2023 — Irregularities in the equipment of Cuban players, caused, among other reasons, by the lack of sports equipment on the Island, continue to hinder the development of the national game. This Saturday, habanero Yoasnier Emilio Pérez was expelled from the match between his team, Industriales, and Los Gallos de Sancti Spíritus for the use of an “illegal” bat during the Elite League.
The sports authorities, who issued a statement denouncing the fact, attributed it to Pérez’s personal indiscipline but did not clarify whether the decision to use an “ineligible” bat responded to the fact that the team did not have the equipment needed for a match of that level.
According to the National Baseball Commission, in the middle of the game the Sancti Spíritus team reported the irregularity, and it was determined that the bat used, in addition to not being registered as eligible, had a rubber grip of greater size than required by the regulations, which influenced the game, because a player could use it to gain a base and put the score in favor of Industriales.
The game, which ended three to two in favor of Industriales, is considered invalid, said the Commission, which also prohibited Pérez from playing in the rescheduled match with Sancti Spíritus and the following game, both to be held next Sunday
The game, which ended three to two in favor of Industriales, is considered invalid, said the Commission, which also prohibited Pérez from playing in the rescheduled match with Sancti Spíritus and the following game, both to be held next Sunday. The Industriales’ version of the facts, or that of the sanctioned player, is not known.
“Indisciplines” aside, the situation of sports on the Island is painful. Last Sunday, the official newspaper Escambray analyzed the impact on the performance of the baseball players during the daytime hours, a measure that has been decreed to save electricity and that exposes athletes to long hours of confrontation under the sun. Many of the night matches, the team complained, may end up being suspended due to blackouts.
The lack of bats, balls and uniforms has also been a cause of discomfort among the players, who saw the situation get out of control last May when, in a match between Los Elefantes de Cienfuegos and Los Gallos, the first team ran out of bats a few minutes after the start of the game. According to an article published in the official press, the cienfuegueros had previously warned of the lack of equipment, but there was no response from the authorities.
On the contrary, after the “incredible incident,” officials pointed out TeamMate as responsible, an Italian sportswear production company that has been in the news in Cuba for delivering defective balls, delaying deliveries and having links with Antonio Castro Soto Del Valle, son of Fidel Castro. For one ball, TeamMate charges almost twice the cost of the official balls of the Major Leagues of the United States, according to figures from the Cuban Baseball Federation, a price that the regime blames on the embargo.
The lack of bats, balls and uniforms has been a cause of discomfort among the players, who saw the situation get out of control last May in a match between Los Elefantes de Cienfuegos and Los Gallos
In other sports of lesser relevance on the Island, to which a smaller budget is dedicated, the crisis is even worse. This Saturday, Invasor gave an account of the difficulties suffered by basketball students in Ciego de Ávila and how neglect of the sport – which “is not as expensive as others” – affects the future of the game in the country.
The “anger” that coaches and athletes deal with, the media says, starts with not having at least one ball per player to optimize training time. According to Yunier Valdivia, director of the Sports Initiation School (EIDE) of the province, last year the center received thirty balls, but they were of poor quality.
The lack of footwear and ankle socks is another of the urgent needs of the school. Previously, footwear was guaranteed by the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), explains Valdivia. Now, he confesses, “You can only find shoes (…) exclusively in the informal market and for a price of at least 60 U.S. dollars.” The socks have also become the responsibility of the students who, when they find them, prefer to reserve them for competitions at the risk of suffering injuries during training.
The EIDE athletes, however, have had a major problem for decades: the school’s wooden court (tabloncillo) has “holes like it was continually jumped on,” says the director of the institution, Analiesses González.
The “angers” that coaches and athletes deal with, says the media, begin by not having at least one ball per player to optimize training time
At the moment, Gonzalez says, students train in the Giraldo Córdova Cardín Multipurpose Room, “the only one with the minimum conditions in the entire province,” or on concrete courts that increase the risk of injuries due to the lack of flexibility of the floor.
“It’s not just the tabloncilla [flooring], the complete situation of the institution is very complex,” acknowledged the official, who stressed that with the 70 million pesos dedicated to this year’s budget she could not even solve the critical problem of scholarships. The closure of one of the dormitory blocks due to the precarious condition of the bathrooms forces more than 300 students to live overcrowded in another building with the rest of the athletes and prevents the school from increasing its staff.
Repairs to the court and the gym have been included in the investment plan for 2024, but it is difficult to ensure that they will be carried out. Until the State and INDER decide to reinvest the profits of national tournaments and competitions in the sport, the EIDE basketball players and other Cuban athletes will remain in terrible conditions or will choose to leave the country.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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