Posted on 19 July 2012.
Press Release Little League Baseball
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. (July 16, 2012) – For the first time in the 66-year history of the Little League Baseball World Series, a team from Africa will be in the field. Lugazi Little League from Lugazi, Uganda, won the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Region Tournament today with a 5-2 victory over Kuwait Little League from Kuwait City, Kuwait.
The five-team, four-day tournament was played at the Little League Baseball European Leadership Training Center in Kutno, Poland.
Little League in Uganda is relatively new with the first local leagues chartering in 2005.
Lugazi is located in the southeastern area of the landlocked country, about 31 miles east of the capital city of Kampala. The Lugazi Little League is one of five chartered Little Leagues in Uganda, with four Little League (Majors) Baseball Division teams, and four Junior League Baseball Division teams. There are more than 700 boys and girls currently playing Little League Baseball and Softball in Uganda.
In 2011, a team from a different Ugandan local league, located in the capital city of Kampala, defeated a team from Saudi Arabia in the final game of the MEA Region Tournament. However, irregularities in the team’s birth and residence documents led to the U.S. State Department denying entry visas for the team. As a result, the Saudi Arabia team was awarded the regional title and competed in the 2011 World Series instead.
“After last year’s World Series, we met with State Department officials to work on ways to avoid a repeat of last year’s unfortunate situation,” Patrick W. Wilson, Little League International Senior Vice President of Operations and Program Development, said. “The meetings focused on ensuring that all players on the team, as well as the manager and coaches, would have all the necessary paperwork before the Uganda national championship team even traveled to Poland for the regional tournament.”
The next step for the Uganda team is to return to Uganda and begin the process of applying through the U.S. Embassy in Kampala for visas to enter the United States.
“In the months since our meetings with the U.S. State Department, we have been working with the local Little Leagues in Uganda on the methods to obtain the proper documents,” Mr. Wilson said. “We are grateful to the State Department for its assistance. As a result, we are now cautiously optimistic that the Uganda team will be joining us next month in South Williamsport for the 66th Little League Baseball World Series.”
Little League International, as with all teams traveling to and from all eight World Series tournaments in baseball and softball, pays all the travel, food and lodging expenses for the players, manager, and coaches. The Uganda team is expected to arrive in the U.S. in the second week of August.
Lugazi Little League posted a 3-1 record in pool play earning the No. 1 seed, and a spot in the championship game, on the basis of Little League’s tie-breaking rules. Kuwait Little League and Arabian American Little League from Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, also finished pool play with 3-1 records. Kuwait Little League earned the other spot in the title game by virtue of winning the head-to-head game against Arabian American Little League. All three teams involved defeated each other, creating the need to use the tie-breaker.
The new Middle East & Africa Champion suffered its only loss in the tournament, a 2-1 decision, to Arabian American Little League in its first game. Lugazi Little League allowed only five runs in its five tournament games.
Lugazi Little League joins Aguadulce Cabezera Little League from Aguadulce, Panama, the Latin America Region Champion; Kitasuna Little League from Tokyo, Japan, the Japan Region Tournament Champion; Asia-Pacific Region Champion, Kuei-Shan Little League from Taoyuan County, Chinese Taipei; and Pariba Little League from Willemstad, Curacao, the Caribbean Region Champion, in the 16-team Little League Baseball World Series field.
Lugazi Little League will play their first World Series game on Aug. 17, against the Latin America Region Champion, Aguadulce Cabezera Little League from Aguadulce, Panama.
The 66th Little League Baseball World Series, for 11-12-year-olds, will be played in South Williamsport, Pa., Aug. 16-26. Sixteen teams from around the world will vie for the coveted title of World Champion.
The World Series will use the same format as last year with the teams split into two eight-team brackets – a U.S. bracket and an International bracket.
The 2012 World Series is the sixth under an eight-year television contract with ESPN/ABC. All games of the World Series will be televised live, in high definition, on the ESPN family of networks or ABC. ABC will air the World Series championship game, Aug. 26 at 3 p.m., and the U.S. and International Championship games the previous day beginning with the International contest at 12:30 p.m. and the U.S. game to follow. For the second year, all 21 World Series games played at Lamade Stadium will air on ESPN 3D.
As has been the case since 1997, everyone can follow the road to South Williamsport for the squads from the U.S. with ESPN and its family of networks coverage of the Little League Baseball regionals. Live coverage of the semifinals and championship game at all eight regional sites begins August 7. In addition, the New England Sports Network (NESN) will televise four pool play games in the New England Regional, played at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Leadership Training Center in Bristol, Conn., and both semifinals.
A new addition this year to the television schedule will feature the televising of all pool play games of the Southwestern Region Little League Baseball Tournament in Waco, Texas, by the Longhorn Network, part of the ESPN family, Aug. 3-6.
The U.S. regional finals will be televised as follows (all times eastern U.S. time): Southwestern Region (Aug. 9, 9 p.m., Waco, Texas, ESPN2); Southeast Region (Aug. 10, 7 p.m., Warner Robins, Ga., ESPN); Great Lakes Region (Aug. 10, 1 p.m., Indianapolis, Ind., ESPN); New England Region (Aug. 11, 6 p.m., Bristol, Conn., ESPN); Northwest Region (Aug. 11, 4 p.m., San Bernardino, Calif., ESPN); Midwest Region (Aug. 11, 2 p.m., Indianapolis, Ind., ESPN); West Region (Aug. 11, 8 p.m., San Bernardino, Calif., ESPN); and Mid-Atlantic Region (Aug. 12, 5 p.m., Bristol, Conn., ESPN2).
The next berth in the Little League Baseball World Series is expected to be decided July 27 when the champion in the Mexico Region Tournament will be determined.
Ocean View Little League from Huntington Beach, Calif., captured the 2012 Little League Baseball World Series Championship scoring a run in the bottom of the sixth inning for a 2-1 victory over Hamamatsu Minami Little League, the Japan Region Champion.
Follow every pitch of the Little League Baseball World Series on the Little League web site (www.LittleLeague.org).
Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organized youth sports program, with more than 2.4 million players and 1 million adult volunteers in every U.S. state and scores of other countries.
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