Auckland, New Zealand—The most accomplished coaching staff in the history of the nation’s baseball programme has been selected to guide New Zealand’s top youth baseball players against the region’s and world’s best players, according to officials from Baseball New Zealand, the sport’s governing body based in Auckland.
Head Coach Aaron Campbell, one of the nation’s first athletes to play and coach at a university in America and who recently trained with Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, has selected three equally accomplished coaches, including two with professional baseball playing experience and will begin the trial and selection process for New Zealand’s Under-16 National Baseball Team on Sunday, 28 November in Northland and Auckland.
His brother, Scott Campbell, currently a second baseman in the Toronto Blue Jays organisation, along with former Taiwanese professional and Los Angeles Dodger minor leaguer player Cola Yeh and Canadian pitching coach Matt Mills round out what people in the nation’s baseball community say is the best ever group chosen to lead New Zealand’s young baseball players.
“The combined baseball experience, at the highest levels globally, is unrivalled by past teams we’ve put together,” said Baseball New Zealand president David Ballinger. “We’ve got one current professional player, a former professional player, a great pitching coach—led by a guy who recently trained with the Cubs and who we believe is one of the best coaches in the entire region. Our Under-16 team is in good hands with this coaching staff.”
The coaching staff will be responsible for choosing a twenty (20) player roster to compete against the national teams from Guam and Australia, the latter being one of the top five teams in the world. The coaches will travel the nation, beginning this coming weekend in Northland and in Auckland, to take a look at the nation’s sporting talent, and they are prepared to scout and trial all baseball and non-baseball players born between the years of 1995-1997 (players who turn 14-16 years old in 2011). Additionally, each team may also carry three (3) players born in 1998, or those baseball players who will turn 13 years of age in 2011.
The coaching staff will initially choose up to 30 players for the Under-16 National Development Squad by 20 December, and will search databases of Kiwi players who are playing baseball in Australia, Canada or elsewhere to ensure all potential players are seen or contacted. The final squad will be selected in the second week of January 2011, with the triple round-robin tournament beginning two weeks later on 25 January and concluding on 28 January.
New Zealand’s first game will also be the tournament’s opening game and will take place at 10 am on 25 January. The game will be televised on SKY Sports. New Zealand will take on the national team from Guam in this opening round game, followed by a game against Australia’s top 16-year-old ballplayers forty-five minutes after the conclusion of the first game. All games in the Oceania Championships will be played at Lloyd Elsmore Park on Howick-Pakuranga Baseball Club’s baseball field number one.
The Under-16 International Baseball Federation (IBAF) World Championships will be held in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico, from 20th August to 30th August, and will feature national teams representing the IBAF member regions based on regional qualification, including the winner of Oceania Championships in Pakuranga.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.