From left: Don Leard, Derek Mcphee, Ben Wellman, Bob Holt, Logan Wilson, Wendell Kierstead, Haydyn Kierstead, Todd Campbell, Shane Lapp, Matt Leard and Morgan Hayward. Missing: Jared Baker and Drew Savery. Photo supplied

Island ball team bound for Cuba

A group of midget-aged ball players are heading to Cuba in May

A group of midget-aged ball players are heading to Cuba in May for a week of baseball, and humanitarian causes in the spirit of friendship through the game. The Island contingent is comprised of boys 16-19 years from the Comox Valley, Campbell River, Gold River and Quadra Island.

The Apple Electric NI Midgets will be playing teams in Union De Reyes out of the Matanzas baseball association. The NI boys will be joined by a midget team from Chemainus that will also be participating.

This journey began a couple of years ago when the Chemainus Baseball Association’s Rob Dyke travelled to Cuba, where he brought a bunch of baseball gear for the association in Union De Reyes. The Cubans were overwhelmed by his generosity, and invited him to bring a baseball team to Cuba.

The Chemainus association raised money to send a team the following year, bringing with them humanitarian goods to give to the Cuban ball teams and families. The experience was one of a lifetime for both the Cuban and Canadian boys. When they played their final game in Cuba, even though they had brought 10 large bags of gear and humanitarian goods, the Chemainus boys were so touched by the moment, that they were giving their opponents and new friends literally the shirts off their back and the cleats from their feet as they left the field.

The Cubans were so grateful that, on the day the Chemainus boys were leaving, they walked 4 1/2 hours to the hotel to say goodbye.

Last summer, the Cubans were invited to Vancouver Island for a friendship-through-baseball tour. They were here for one week and travelled from Victoria to Mount Washington. The CR Tyees midget rep team played them in Courtenay.

In November, the Chemainus group asked the NI team to join them in Union De Reyes. The team will fly out May 7, taking goods and ball gear to give away.

The team hosts a Beer & Burger with Silent Auction event at the Anchor Inn in Campbell River on Sunday, March 11. Tickets can be picked up at the Anchor Inn, from a team member, or by emailing the group. There’s also an ongoing bottle drive to raise money. If you have donations of bottles, used baseball equipment or school supplies, contact the group at canada2cuba2018@gmail.com.

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