Confederation of European Baseball Commits to Little League
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa., and FRANKFURT, Germany, (Jan. 25, 2008) – Little League Baseball has been played outside of the United States since the 1940s, but it has been only within the last 25 years that the children of Europe have truly enjoyed the chance to play the game.
In the 1980s, Glasnost and the fall of the Iron Curtain, created an
avenue for Western influences to build inroads across Europe, and
Little League Baseball embraced that opportunity by fostering a
respectful and appreciative relationship with countries across the
The Confederation of European Baseball (CEB), the governing body for national baseball federations in Europe, through the tireless efforts of its President, Martin Miller, have forged a bond with Little League Baseball and Softball that will make the dream of native European children playing Little League a reality beginning with the first pitch of the 2008 season.
“We are delighted that the Confederation of European Baseball has chosen Little League as its exclusive youth baseball development program,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Patrick Wilson, Vice President of Operations for Little League International, and Beata Kaszuba, Director of the Europe, Middle East and Africa Region, have been working closely with Mr. Miller, and the CEB for nearly three years on this, and we are pleased to have reached an agreement that will benefit so many children.”
The number of players the agreement will bring to the Little League program is unclear as yet, but is thought to be thousands in the 39 countries of the CEB. Currently, Little League programs are operating in more than 20 European nations. Many of those, however, are primarily composed of the children of U.S. citizens living abroad.
“To reach this level of cooperation with the world’s largest youth sports organization is very significant to the future growth of baseball in Europe,” Mr. Miller said. “For our two organizations to develop parallel programs in Europe was not practical, and certainly would not be in the best interests of the children. It is better to combine forces for maximum output and success.”
|Little League Baseball World Series to Include
Teams From Europe, as Well as the Middle East/Africa
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (Jan. 25, 2008) – The 2008 Little League Baseball World Series, to be played Aug. 15-24 in Williamsport, Pa., will feature a European Region representative, while a separate region champion will represent the Middle East and Africa.
Since 2001, when the Little League Baseball World Series expanded from eight to 16 teams, native European teams have qualified for the Series by playing through the Europe, Middle East and Africa Region Tournament. The other teams from the same geographic area represented the Transatlantic Region. Teams competing for this region championship came from players whose parents are United States citizens living and working aboard.
This summer, through a partnership with the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB), nearly 40 countries will be playing under the Little League banner and potentially entering teams into a Europe-only region tournament. The 2008 European Region Tournament also will include some teams that would have previously participated in the Transatlantic Region Tournament.
Little Leagues from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) countries will attempt to reach Williamsport through their own tournament.
The increase of teams playing Little League in countries associated with the CEB precipitated the change.
Through the former EMEA Region, teams from Moscow, Russia; Kutno, Poland; and Apeldoorn, Netherlands, have played in the World Series. Currently, Little League programs are operating in more than 20 European nations.
This change in region designation will only affect the Little League Baseball World Series.
The agreement opens Little League’s extensive array of training aids, clinics and seminars to players and volunteers throughout the continent. For the time being, it is limited to players 12 years old and below.
“Mr. Miller has shown an unwavering commitment to Little League’s ideals,” Mr. Wilson said. “His leadership and belief in the role our program can play in the lives of children throughout Europe are a testament to his convictions and speaks highly of the CEB’s commitment to the providing an organized and well-run youth sports experience.”