Amid a lot of enthusiasm among the youngsters, the first ever, two-day long Walton Cup Baseball was held at Bangabandhu Outer Stadium last Tuesday and Wednesday.
Narail division emerged as the champion in the inaugural edition of the tournament, defeating Dhaka Commerce College 10-3 in the final.
Alongside the finalists, Mirpur Bangla College, Dani University College, Dhaka Zila Krira Sangstha and Sirajganj Zila Krira Sangstha also participated in the competition, co-organised by Bangladesh Baseball and Softball Association.
The winners pocketed Tk 10,000 while the runners-up side received Tk 5,000. The six teams were also allotted Tk 2,000 each as participation money.
The prize money however, paled in comparison to the fervour shown by the baseball players throughout the tournament.
“The last time all of us played a competition was back in December last year. We had to wait eight months for this tournament. We practice really hard but there's nothing like the excitement of a competition which really motivates a player to continue playing the game,” said Dipto Ibne Zakir, an integral member of Dhaka Commerce College.
A total of 54 players, mostly youngsters, took part in the tournament which was organised in the span of a few days, that too without the presence of coaches Hiroki Watanabe and Sean Morris, who were both unavailable.
“We got to know about the competition three days before it was scheduled to begin. It would have been better if we had a few more days for practising. Nonetheless, we were all excited. After all, its not often that baseball tournaments are held in Bangladesh,” said Dipto.
The next time these players will get the opportunity to strut their stuff in a competition will be in December this year when sponsors Walton holds the first ever national baseball tournament.
“The national baseball tournament's importance cannot be stated in words. Following that tournament, the Bangladesh team will be drafted with the best performers. We are all looking forward to it,” Dipto explained.
The 20-year old has reasons to feel eager. The World Baseball Classic, premier baseball competition of the globe, takes place next year while the game will return to the Olympics in Tokyo, 2020.
“A few countries, for instance Pakistan, started playing the game before us but they have improved a lot in recent times. Sadly, we are lagging behind. We have good coaches but we do not have a dedicated ground for training, which is the biggest drawback. If we get proper facilities, we will only grow from strength to strength,” concluded Dipto.