10/10/2007 5:03 PM ET
MLB International invites students to Play Ball! across China
Grassroots program to launch in 120 elementary schools in five cities
Major League Baseball International (MLBI) will launch its grassroots youth baseball program, Play
Ball!, in five cities across China this fall, it was announced today. The program will be incorporated into
the physical education curriculum for students aged eight-to-12 in 120
elementary schools in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Tianjin and Wuxi.
Play Ball! China is set to reach more than 100,000 elementary school
students in the 2007-08 school year alone. Participating students will be
introduced to the rules of the game and instructed on developing their
baseball skills as part of their in-school physical education programs.
"The Major League Baseball International Play Ball! Program will put bats and balls into the hands of
hundreds of thousands of young players in China in the coming years," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice
President, International Business Operations, Major League Baseball. "We are committed to baseball's
future in China and the Play Ball! Program promises to play an important role in China's emergence as a
"Baseball has been developing for a long time in China," said Ganbei Lin, Sports and Culture Director
of the Beijing Education Bureau. "MLB's current promotion of baseball will be a big help toward Chinese
youth and the enthusiasm for sports, not only in spurring the growth of baseball but also for pouring new
energy into the development of Chinese youth sports."
Nagase Kenko Corporation will serve as an official supplier of Play Ball! China. The world-renowned
Kenko Air Safety BaseballTM, combining the performance of a real baseball with greater safety and
durability, will be the only baseball used in the program.
In preparation for the first season of Play Ball! China, MLBI has conducted coaching clinics for more
than 400 university and grade school-level physical education teachers in Beijing, Guangzhou and
Shanghai this past summer. Led by Rick Dell, Director of China Baseball Development for Major League
Baseball International, six American baseball coaches with extensive international experience instructed
the prospective Play Ball! coaches on basic baseball skills and coaching techniques. At the conclusion of
the clinics, MLBI donated all used equipment to support baseball in the local communities. MLBI has hired
ZOU Marketing to provide support in the planning and execution of the clinics and Play Ball! program
launch. (See below for more information on ZOU Marketing.)
About Play Ball!
Play Ball! is Major League Baseball International's youth start-up program aimed at supporting
organizations that want to introduce or expand organized youth baseball in their communities. Since
1994, MLBI has conducted successful league and school-based youth programs in Australia, Germany,
Italy, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
About MLB International
Major League Baseball International (MLBI) focuses on the worldwide growth of baseball and the
promotion of Major League Baseball and MLB Club trademarks and copyrights through special events,
broadcasting, market development, licensing and sponsorship initiatives. MLBI is committed to
showcasing the world's best baseball talent through international events around the globe. Broadcast in
229 countries and territories, Major League Baseball game telecasts are re-transmitted in 13 different
languages. MLBI executes and supports game development programs targeting players and coaches from
grassroots to elite levels. With an extensive list of marketing partners worldwide, MLBI continues to grow
its position as a leader in the international marketplace. MLBI is supported in its mission through
presences in Beijing, New York, London, Sydney and Tokyo.
About Nagase Kenko Corporation
Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Nagase Kenko Corporation is a leading global sporting goods
manufacturer whose Air Safety BaseballTM is used by youth leagues on every continent. It presently
employs a staff of over 250 individuals around the world. It maintains four Japanese manufacturing
facilities and three regional sales offices in Osaka, Fukuoka and Hokkaido. In addition, it maintains an
extensive network of agents, distributors and representatives who help to manage its sales and marketing
and promotional activities around the world.
About ZOU Marketing
ZOU Marketing is a strategic sports branding agency with over 25 years of China sports industry working
experience. ZOU has been tapped by MLB to manage its Grassroots initiatives in China. The company will
be in charge of organizing coaching clinics and establishing youth baseball leagues in 5 cities for 120
schools. For more information, please visit www.zoumarketing.com.