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Major League Baseball International (MLBI) is holding an African Elite Camp in Cape Town, South Africa for 40 of Africa's top young baseball players. Coaches from each participating nation, including Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, are also on hand to learn from the experienced MLB staff.
The camp is taking place at the Athlone A's Baseball Club, home to one of the South African Baseball Union's Intensive Training Centres which serves over 400 players. The new indoor facility at the complex, which features batting cages, pitching mounds and a workout facility, was made possible through a Baseball Tomorrow Fund grant of more than $200,000 awarded in March 2010. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is a joint initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association designed to promote and enhance the growth of baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field improvements, equipment purchases and selected program expenses to encourage and maintain youth participation.
"Major League Baseball has already seen that impressive talent can come from the continent - from Team South Africa's performance in the 2009 World Baseball Classic to the caliber of skill demonstrated by players from Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda who have attended the MLBI European Academy," said Paul Archey, Senior Vice President, International Business Operations, Major League Baseball. "This Elite Camp will support the development of skilled players across Africa in reaching their competitive potential and we are confident that the talent demonstrated will be substantial."
"The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is pleased to support the growth and development of baseball in Africa through the Athlone A's training center," said Cathy Bradley, Executive Director of the Baseball Tomorrow Fund. "We hope the Centre will provide players in Africa with the opportunity to train and further their skills while creating a facility for more young people to become involved in the game."
Rick Magnante, manager of the Vermont Lake Monsters in the Oakland A's system, is the lead instructor at the African Elite Camp. He has managed in the minor leagues for nine years, and also was the manager of the South African National Team in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics. Mike Randall, who was part of Magnante's coaching staff during the World Baseball Classics in 2006 and 2009, Tim Garland and German Geigel are also serving as instructors.