Australia Little League needs more adult help

Some first-year countries have left the Little League World Series looking for more equipment to try and grow the game back home. The team from Uganda last year was a great example of that.

But for some, it’s more of a people problem. Specifically, finding more coaches not only to lead teams, but throw batting practice, hit infield and help shuttle kids around.

Glen Tovey made it here with Perth Metro Central LL, Australia’s first entry. And while Australia now has its own region, after Little League again reorganized its International boundaries this past year, Tovey would like to go back and see more adults involved.

According to Little League statistics, there should be plenty of interested children, as 5,000 play it in Australia, more than Japan and slightly less than Mexico.

And while some countries have debuted here with less offensive output than they expected (Australia has not scored in two defeats), Tovey said that was not the result of hitters not seeing unfamiliar high-quality pitching, but rather not enough high-quality adults.

“There was a coach from the Mid-Atlantic talking hitting at the cage yesterday, it was nothing I hadn’t said, but it was in a different accent and our players embraced it,” Tovey said.

“We’ll help anyone, anywhere, improve their game, but the biggest cry for help is for umpires and coaches,” Tovey said. “That’s how we’ll improve, rather than just me at practice. Get other dads involved. The difference here is the dads have played and they’re on the sidelines catching, throwing, hitting and encouraging. That’s a huge difference for us, the number of experienced people giving back to the game.”

It’s different in the Czech Republic, where South Moravia LL from Brno made the nation’s debut this week. Manager Jan Gregor is a full-time baseball teacher who takes other Czech teams to other tournaments in Europe and Asia. It’s a little bit more like the old Eastern bloc sports development model there, of academies and national teams, and getting the best players possible together.

“I’ve spent three months out of my home in baseball this summer. I’ll go to the European Cup, Kutno and fly with our junior national team to the World Cup,” Gregor said. “Maybe we need to find new younger coaches to train for next year. They saw me on TV this year and they know this is better. We showed the other Czechs you can play better.”