SELINSGROVE — Less than a decade after Little League baseball was brought to the children of Uganda, the fledgling team will be participating in the Little League World Series next week.
The team of 11-year-old players from Lugazi, a town in central Uganda, will be cheered on by members of Christ Community United Methodist Church in Selinsgrove, who have held annual missions to the African country since 2004 and sponsor a school within about 30 miles of the baseball training area.
“We’re all pretty excited,” said church member Tim Brouse, who is part of a group planning to attend the Uganda team’s first World Series game against Aguadulce, Panama, at 5 p.m. Friday.
It’s the first African team to play in the Little League World Series, which begins Thursday in Williamsport.
They had a chance to participate last year, but a problem arose over documentation, and they weren’t granted approval to travel to the U.S. for the games.
Brouse said he contacted officials from the Little League World Series last year to find out what was going on, and he eventually got in touch with Richard Stanley, the New Jersey man who introduced the Ugandans to baseball in 2003. Stanley is part-owner of the Trenton Thunder, a Yankees Class AA affiliate in the Eastern League. Despite not being allowed to participate in the games last year, the young Ugandan players “still had good attitudes,” Brouse said.
He looks forward to meeting the team next week for the first time.
On the most recent Christ Community mission trip in June, 52 children from the church-sponsored school were on Thursday about a Liverpool man’s replica of the car used in “The Dukes of Hazzard” made reference to another replica of the same car. The story was about Matt Delbaugh, of Liverpool, who built a General Lee car, which he displayed at the Meiserville Inn car show. A photo of Delbaugh and his car appeared on Page E2. A schedule of coming fairs that was included on Page taken to Stanley’s baseball training area, where they spent four days learning the sport.
Brouse said he’s proud to be part of a group introducing the all-American sport, as well as hope and teamwork, to children living in a Third World country. But he’s most proud of the children, who have worked hard despite setbacks.
“Now that they’re coming to America, the world will see what they can do,” he said.