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A group photo of all participating KLL teams
KLL teams show class in int’l tourney Kuwait Little League hosts 6th Annual International tournament

KUWAIT CITY, March 17: Kuwait Little League (KLL) recently hosted its 6th Annual International Tournament March 6th — 8th. This year’s tournament concluded with teams in five different playing divisions (Baseball 10U, 12U, 14U, 18U and softball 16U) participating. Teams from Dubai, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Egypt participated in the invitational tournament. During the 3 days of play, there were over 50 games played, taking advantage of KLL’s fully equipped and well- lit fields to have games run on from 8 am to 10 pm. KLL’s teams experienced much success in the tournament.

Both their 14U and 18U baseball teams were declared champions of their respective divisions. The 14U division, coached by Coach Ron Troutman showed the highest level of play in the tournament by defeating the second placed Dubai team with a score of 11 to 2.  The 18U team, coached by Coach Joe Rodden, also ended the tournament with 3 wins and 1 loss record, achieving the best record in the division. The other divisions also played very well. The 12U division was coached by Dan Treash and Tadd Kruse. The 10U division was coached by Coach Salvatore Lisciandrello. KLL entered 2 softball teams in the tournament, one coached by Coach Gloria Penalbert and the other coached by Coach DeAnne Davis. The two teams ended with identical records of 2 wins and 2 losses.

Meanwhile, this year, for the first time in Kuwait, KLL hosted players from the Challenger Division of Dubai Little League for the first Challenger Jamboree, a one-of-a-kind event in the Middle East in which participants from both countries interacted throughout the period of the tournament.  The Challenger Division is a division of Little League baseball that is dedicated to children with special needs and allows them to enjoy the game of baseball, their conditions notwithstanding.  What’s unique about the event is the Challenger division games are usually played with one team — with the teammates competing against each other with the help of team buddies. But the Jamboree allows for teams to play against players other than their teammates for the first time.

But what really distinguishes the Challenger division is each player is assigned a “buddy” who helps them. If a player is incapacitated one way or the other, the buddy would help the player swing the bat and then help him or her while going to first base. The goal of assigning buddies is not just to help the player on the field during a game, but to also foster friendships between players and their buddies off the field even if they were complete strangers in the beginning.

The players from Dubai not only participated in one practice and 2 games at the fields but were also joined by KLL’s Challenger players on field trips to the Kuwait Zoo, the Scientific Center, and were given a party at McDonald’s. “KLL is very appreciative of our Challenger Jamboree Sponsor, McDonald’s and we’re hoping the lead will be picked up by other corporate entities so we can make the Challenger Jamboree an annual event”, said Mercy Boujarwah, an organizer of the KLL tournament.

“Just watching these kids play, brings a smile to your face, it will bring a tear to your eye, and it will just make you feel really good inside, it’s probably the best thing that you could see all year”, said a spectator in the gallery as the children played. The competition was tough but friendly, with all coaches and organizers trying to give the players the most positive experience. Tournament organizers Dr Abdulazeez Boujarwah and Mrs Susan Sakkez along with Mercy Boujarwah made sure that the event ran smoothly and efficiently.

Kuwait Little League (KLL) Baseball and Softball, chartered with Little League International in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in the United States, has been in existence since 1980. The Little League season in Kuwait runs from October to April. The knowledgeable coaches are all volunteers and are very dedicated to making the child’s baseball experience great. What sets KLL apart from all other leagues in the Middle East is their trailblazing effort in the formation of a Challenger division solely for children with special needs who play in four teams. Every player of the 8-division league receives a team jersey and cap to wear at games, and at the end of the season, a trophy, and team picture. KLL participates in several international tournaments each year.

 By Iddris Seidu
Arab Times Staff

By: Iddris Seidu

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