Little League® International has announced that it will relocate its 2022 Little League Baseball and Junior League Baseball Europe & Africa Region Tournaments, originally scheduled to be held at its European Region Headquarters in Kutno, Poland. Working with the Polish government, the facility will host a group of softball players and coaches seeking refuge from Ukraine, who arrived at the Kutno facility on Monday, May 16.
“This is an unimaginably difficult time for everyone in Ukraine, and we’re grateful that we will be able to provide these young softball players and their coaches not only a safe haven, but also with facilities to continue to play the sport they love,” said Stephen D. Keener, Little League President and CEO.
“While baseball and softball are trivial in comparison to the horrors Ukrainians are facing, Little League is where communities can come together around the world. We hope that this group has a meaningful stay in Kutno, and that they are able to return home to a peaceful Ukraine very soon.”
To continue with the planning process for the Little League Baseball (LLB) and Junior League Baseball (JLB) Europe & Africa Region Tournaments, these events will be relocated to Moergestel, Netherlands, and Modena, Italy, respectively. The LLB tournament in Moergestel will feature 13 teams competing from July 16-23 to represent the Europe & Africa Region in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, this August. The JLB tournament will take place from June 27-July 3 and feature nine teams competing in Modena for a chance to compete in the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor, Michigan, scheduled to take place from August 14-21. Complete details on the LLB and JLB tournaments, as well as all Little League Region and World Series tournaments can be found at LittleLeague.org/WorldSeries.
“We have such a strong Little League community throughout our Europe & Africa Region that is proud to support Little Leaguers in Ukraine, welcoming them into their home leagues in neighboring countries, and now willing to host these two tournaments,” said Beata Kaszuba-Baker, Little League Europe & Africa Region Director. “We are working hard to make sure that all Little Leaguers have a wonderful experience, as these tournaments return for the first time since 2019, while also supporting these young female athletes and their coaches from Ukraine during this difficult time at our Kutno facility.”
A former Ukrainian Little League coach first approached Little League Europe & Africa Region staff to inquire about using the Kutno facility to host a group of softball players from clubs throughout the country. Kutno is approximately 250 miles from the Poland-Ukraine border. Mrs. Kaszuba-Baker and her staff collaborated with the group from Ukraine to work with the Polish government to begin the refugee process.
“On behalf of everyone at Little League, thank you to all those in Poland, for helping us support these refugees,” said Mr. Keener. “Additionally, we are grateful for our friends in Netherlands and Italy for allowing us to relocate these tournaments at such short notice, so that we can house these softball players, while still providing a tournament for these Little Leaguers from countries throughout our Europe & Africa Region.”