With Cuba making its historic debut at the Little League Baseball® World Series (LLBWS), in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, Little League® International and the Cuban Baseball and Softball Federation are pleased to announce an extension of its affiliation agreement to 2025, further enhancing the commitment to development of the Little League program throughout Cuba. The agreement was signed by Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO, and Juan Reinaldo Perez Pardo, Cuban Baseball and Softball Federation President, in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania, prior to Cuba’s second game of the Little League Baseball World Series.
“In the four years since we signed our initial agreement with the Cuban Baseball and Softball Federation, we have been continually impressed and inspired by the commitment of the volunteers and officials throughout the country, and more importantly, the fun and excitement that the players have shown at every level of the program,” said Mr. Keener. “We are pleased to be able to extend our agreement and look forward to an exciting future with the Cuban Baseball and Softball Federation as we continue to grow the game across the country and work to motivate and inspire thousands of children each year.”
The relationship between Little League and the CBF was established in 2019 with the affiliation of 170 Cuban youth programs for children 4 to 12 years old while also providing entry into the LLBWS as part of the World Series expansion in 2021.
As part of the extended agreement, Little League International will continue to work with the CBF to develop youth baseball throughout the country, with hopes of extending the opportunities to the teenage divisions and the potential establishment and development of Little League Softball® programs. Little League International will also continue to work with the CBF to provide support for tournament-related travel, volunteer training and education, and resources for obtaining equipment and field development.
In March 2023, Bayamo Little League made history as the first team from Cuba to qualify for the LLBWS with its 2-1 series win over Habana del Este Little League in the best-of-three country championship. Cuba’s direct entry to the World Series comes as part of the Little League Baseball World Series expansion that was announced in 2019 and went into effect in 2022. With its direct entry into the 2023 event, Cuba qualified to become the 29th international country to earn a spot in the Little League Baseball World Series and will once again qualify for direct entry in 2024 as part of the international rotation.
In Cuba’s first year as an affiliated program, Havana Little League made its way to the semifinals, falling to eventual Region Champion, Pabao Little League from Curacao, finishing with a 5-2 record in the 2019 Region Tournament. After not being able to compete in 2020 or 2021 due to the pandemic, Cuba returned to the Caribbean Region tournament in 2022 as Liga Santa Clara worked its way to the championship game before falling once again to Pabao Little League, finishing the event with a 5-1 record. In both 2019 and 2022, Pabao Little League would also go on to claim the International Championship Banner at the World Series.