President Bush Delivers Baseball Equipment to Little League in Ghana, Watches Tee Ball Game
WILLIAMSPORT , Pa. – U.S. President George W. Bush, on a five-nation visit to Africa, delivered baseball equipment today to a Little League Baseball program in the capital city of Accra, Ghana, then watched as two Accra Little League two teams played a Tee Ball game using the equipment.
Photos and a video clip of the Little League Tee Ball game
can be viewed here:
- White House LL Tee Ball Game Images1
- White House LL Tee Ball Game Images2
- White House LL Tee Ball Game Images3
- White House LL Tee Ball Game Video
President Bush is the first U.S. President to have played Little League. He was a catcher on his Midland, Texas team. As President, he has invited Little League Tee Ball teams to the White House for 17 games on the South Lawn through the first seven years of his administration.
The equipment is one of the “starter kits” provided to Little League International by Wilson Sporting Goods as part of its sponsorship of Little League. Wilson provides the kits so that fledgling Little League programs, in places where baseball equipment is scarce, can begin playing the game.
One kit contains enough equipment for a full season of baseball for four teams, including bats, balls, catcher’s gear, helmets and other items. In all, the kit weighs about 500 pounds.
The equipment was taken from Little League International in Williamsport to Andrews Air Force Base, just outside Washington, D.C., where it was loaded aboard an Air Force cargo plane and flown to West Africa.
"One of the challenges in providing the kits to Little Leagues overseas is shipping," Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. "The first league in Ghana was formed last year, but we have not been able to get the equipment to the children until now. We are grateful to President Bush for making it possible to provide this opportunity to children in Accra."
Little League Director of League Development Dan Velte traveled to Ghana last year to meet with local officials, including U.S. Ambassador Pamela Bridgewater, on starting a league there. Ghana joins Burkina Faso, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda, as the nations with chartered Little League Baseball programs on the continent of Africa.
Seventy-six countries worldwide are members of the Little League family. Recently, Little League announced a partnership with the Confederation of European Baseball to bring thousands of children in 39 countries under the Little League umbrella. The Australian Baseball Federation also is working with Little League International to charter more than 400 teams.
“Our commitment to provide the benefits of membership in Little League to children around the world is stronger than ever,” Mr. Keener said. “Little League Baseball and Softball teach the values of teamwork, sportsmanship and fair play in a setting that involves the entire family. No matter where they are, or what language they speak, the lessons children can learn from playing Little League can last a lifetime.”
Ghana, about the size of Oregon, is located in West Africa. It was the first African nation to win independence from the European colonial powers, in 1957. It saw its first democratic presidential change of power in 2000, when President John Kufuor was elected. He later was elected President of the African Union. Ghana also is part of President Bush's initiative to stamp out the scourge of malaria in Africa.
“As Ghana is a shining example of democracy in Africa, we are confident it will become an example for Little League as well,” Mr. Keener said. “Long after President Bush ends his visit, we expect the children and families of Ghana to benefit from his visit there.”