Baseball in India got a boost as India’s first professional club and field was launched during the weekend. The club, launched by Grand Slam Baseball, is now trying to train players so that a professional league can be set up in India.
In partnership with Major League Baseball (MLB) and Play Global, a six-acre facility is now coming up near Delhi’s international airport. It hopes to train some of the coaches and carry out some of the initial groundwork for the sport in India. The field will also play host for the team of five experts who will run the training programme.
National level tournament, youth tournaments and hopefully, someday, international tournaments and matches can be held at the location.
“We are trying to turn this into a national hub for baseball and softball” says Raunaq Sahni, Co-founder of Grand Slam Baseball.
Last week, the formal launch of the stadium happened without too much of fanfare. A two-week train-the-trainer programme has just concluded and different kinds of programmes are already being held. 10 coaches from India were trained by experts from MLB and Play Global.
The training programme is now focusing on the private schools in Delhi, where the sport has some interest among the children. 600 children of 15 nationalities from 10 private and several government schools are hoping to learn the sport at the academy.
“During the weekends, we have the tournaments. After the kids get over with their exams next month, we will have the training programme which will run daily,” Sahni told InsideSport.
The next step could be bigger. 40 players from India will be taken to China in April as part of the training programme. Nearly all these kids will be paying for their expenses and have been identified from some of the schools in the National Capital Region. The expenses of five children from different government schools, who have been identified as baseball talent, will be sponsored by Grand Slam Baseball.
“There is a lot of raw talent in India. But there is not enough facilities or coaches to hone the skills,” Sahni says.