History will be made in Lagos, Nigeria, this spring as Little League® teams from Togo, Benin Republic, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria will take the field for the inaugural West Africa Little League (WALL) Tournament.
With games scheduled for April 11-17, this pool of teams, with the possibility of a second pool being filled by representatives from Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Cameroon, will take the field in search for a chance to play in the Region tournament while also serving as a great development tool for the sport in Africa.
“This new tournament structure gives players in West Africa a chance to not only get on the field to compete and polish their skills but to interact with other players from around the country who wish to do the same,” said Beata Kaszuba-Baker, Little League Europe and Africa Region Director. “This experience for these players, coaches, and fans goes a long way toward chartering more local leagues in their native countries.”
This year’s games will be played at Igbobi College, CMS Grammar School, and the Sports Pitch of National Institute of Sports, Lagos. The choice of Lagos as the host site was strategic, as it is the most densely populated city in Africa and serves as the hub of commerce throughout Africa.
“We felt if teams cannot get to the tournament, let us take the tournament to them,” said Kehinde Laniyan, West Africa Little League Tournament Director and Nigeria District 1 Administrator. “What we want to do is step out with our best foot and show that West Africa can host a world-class level event without the need of expensive airline tickets and enduring endless visa application interviews and documentation requests.”
With the rapid development of baseball in Europe over the past decade, Little League International decided to expand the Little League Baseball® Europe and Africa Region tournament field in 2018 and establish a qualifier tournament to provide more opportunities for teams to experience the tournament atmosphere. The West Africa Tournament is an extension of that concept.
“Establishing this tournament allows more teams to participate, play more games against more competitive opponents, and continue to develop the sport across our region,” said Mrs. Kaszuba-Baker. “We still have a long way to go to educate people about the game, but this opportunity to play high level tournament games creates a huge potential for growth.”
Teams will compete in the Little League Baseball Major Division and the Junior League Softball division. The top two finishers from each division will advance to the Europe and Africa Region Tournament in Kutno, Poland. If the proposed second pool of West Africa teams is realized, those winners would not advance. Instead, that event would likely be the precursor to the establishment of a similar tournament-style event in East and South Africa.