Continuing its rapid growth of providing meaningful Little League® experiences for thousands of children, Baseball Australia announced today the expansion of its Little League offerings in the Junior League and Senior League baseball divisions.
Little League’s Junior League Baseball Division provides opportunities for children ages 12 to 14. With more than 250 teams expected to charter this year, Australia will be home to one of the largest Junior League Baseball programs outside of the United States. Supporting its continued growth, Baseball Australia was today granted direct entry to the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Mich., for the first time.
“Australia is thrilled to be a part of the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Michigan,” said Mathew Sundstrom, Baseball Australia Head of Little League and National Championships. “Little League continues to provide amazing opportunities for local communities and their members.”
Australia will offer the Senior League Baseball Division this year for the first time, and is expecting another 20 percent growth in chartered teams with the addition of this division for children 13 to 16 years old. Australia has seen rapid growth of its Little League program since 2008, when Little League International and Baseball Australia began working together to provide a structure for children to learn the fundamentals of baseball, and have a healthy, fun experience with their friends.
In just five years, Australia had more chartered Little League programs than Japan, and was granted direct entry to the Little League Baseball World Series in Williamsport, Pa., starting in 2013. With a local Little League program representing the Australia Region at the past three Little League Baseball® World Series tournaments, the excitement has translated to a more than 50 percent growth of Little League in Australia in three years.
“The growth of Little League in Australia has been a testament to the dedication and hard work of our great volunteers and families throughout the country,” said Dan Velte, Little League Senior Director of League Development and Regional Operations. “We are excited to expand our relationship with Baseball Australia to provide more offerings for children in Australia to have a meaningful Little League experience.”
Australia will now have a local league representing the Australia Region at two of Little League’s nine World Series Tournaments. As Little League programs continue to expand throughout the country, Australia is expected to continue to grow its offerings with future establishment of Little League Intermediate (50/70) Baseball and Big League Baseball, as well as the Little League Challenger Division®, which provides opportunities for boys and girls with physical and intellectual challenges to enjoy the benefits of Little League participation.
The Junior League Baseball Australia Region Tournament will be held from May 22 to 26 in Adelaide, South Australia. The winner will represent the Australia Region at the 2016 Junior League Baseball World Series, which will be held in Taylor, Mich., from August 14 to 21. It will be the first time a team from Australia will compete in the Junior League Baseball World Series.
Australia will also hold its first-ever Senior League Baseball Division tournament in Lismore, New South Wales, from May 14 to 19, 2016. Following the Little League International Tournament structure, the winner of that tournament will go on to represent Australia in the Senior League Baseball Asia-Pacific Region Tournament for a chance to compete in the Senior Baseball World Series held in Bangor, Maine, from July 31 to August 6, 2016.
Also this summer, the Little League Baseball Australia Region Tournament will take place from June 8 to 13, 2016, in Lismore, New South Wales, with the winner advancing to the Little League Baseball World Series. The premier youth sports tournament in the world, the 70th Little League Baseball World Series will take place from August 18 to 28, 2016, and feature 16 regional champions competing in 32 games for a chance to capture the Little League Baseball World Series Championship Banner. This year, more than 130 Little League Baseball and Little League Softball® Tournament games will be broadcast live on the ESPN family of networks. More details on the nine Little League World Series Tournaments will be available later this year on LLBWS.org.