Overnight baseball camp at the home of Little League® is quite the experience. Little Leaguers® come from all around the world to learn baseball fundamentals, sharpen skills, make new friends, and enjoy a wide range of fun recreational activities.
In the first week-long session, Little League International in Williamsport, Pa. welcomed 31 children from the South Asia nation of Pakistan. With some children coming from families of up to 32 siblings, being able to attend the camp was an opportunity that comes along once in lifetime.
Most of the children had never left their home towns, and certainly had never experienced a plane ride. To arrive in Williamsport, the group traveled more than 15 hours, and nearly 7,400 miles. The chance to come to the United States, and take part in the camp, was arranged through the support of the school district in their native city of Karachi. The players’ home league is operated by the school district.
Nigeria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Dubai, the Netherlands and Japan have all sent campers to Williamsport in previous years, but this was the first time Pakistan had been represented.
Baseball in Pakistan is becoming more popular among the younger generation. “It is an interesting game and that’s why I decided to join”, said Vinay Khubchandani, a 13-year-old Pakistani camper.
Arrangements for the Pakistani children to travel to Williamsport started back in March of this year. The children could not wait to pack their bags and spend a week playing baseball. “I thought it would be fun,” said Fatima Maqsood, 11. “The people over here are helpful.” After two flights totaling nearly 30 hours, the children and their Pakistani chaperones spent a few days in New York City. Visiting Times Square, shopping and enjoying an amusement park were only a few of the activities they had on their schedule. Soon thereafter, the 11 Pakistani girls and the 20 Pakistani boys traveled by bus to Williamsport.
“I love America and I want to come back again,” said Zarlish Chohan, 15.
“The children from Pakistan came eager to learn baseball skills, make friends, and have fun,” said Dan Velte, Little League’s Director of League Development. “All the other kids and instructors welcomed them with open arms. Their interest in our camp shows the broad reach of Little League and baseball in general, and we were so pleased they attended.”
The Pakistani Little Leaguers became fast friends with their Camp teammates. When 15-year-old Kashish Jesrani was asked to compare her friends at home to her American camper friends, she answered, “They are the same, (there is) only the language difference.”
Urdu is the country’s national language, while English is also taught in schools throughout Pakistan.
As the Little Leaguers thought about their travels back to home they become sentimental. “I will miss this place and I will miss this camp,” said Zarlish. “It’s the first time for us in a camp of baseball. I’m going to miss it.”
The Pakistani campers showed an interest in attending the Little League Baseball Camp again next year. “I would come back here for baseball,” said Fatima.
Little League Baseball Camp has been a summer-time staple for 53 years. Through several week-long sessions, camp counselors teach baseball skills in a fun, energetic environment that helps mold character while campers, ages 9-14, make new friends. The 60-acre Little League International complex is located in North Central Pennsylvania surrounded by Bald Eagle Mountains.