Posted on 5 August, 2011 by kcorona
As the summer season has come to a close for all Serbian baseball leagues and the wait for the fall season to arrive has begun, I wanted to write an overall report of the 2011 spring and summer season.
Baseball in Serbia is progressing, plain and simple. There are many problems that are associated with baseball at the moment that are really hindering the progression and organization of the sport however. Let’s take a look at how baseball works in Serbia currently.
Senior Baseball “First League”
The current system in place for baseball has no age limit. Currently you have kids as young as 14 years old playing in “adult” league, which is also known as the first league. Baseball in Serbia is structured similar to European soccer where you have different leagues dependent on success which means that you sometimes run into the situation where a team of teenagers are playing against adults ranging anywhere from the mid-20’s to mid-30’s. This system is not ideal for baseball nor for the growth and development of youth baseball. The SBDA has proposed a restructuring of the current system which has to be decided upon by the Baseball Association of Serbia (Bejzbol Savez Srbije).
PONY League Baseball
PONY League baseball in Serbia consists of youth teams (16 and under) from Sombor, Novi Sad, Belgrade, Čačak, and Zrenjanin. The teams each travel to one of the cities and play a Saturday game. This season there have been 8 games and Zrenjanin is leading the way with a 7-1 record.
Belgrade School Baseball League
Baseball Club “Beograd ‘96” launched a school introductory program this year where Milan Zonić visited three schools in Belgrade to introduce baseball to kids up to 12 years old. The results were great, three teams were formed from these schools and a one-day tournament was put on where the winning school of the tournament received a set of baseball equipment including catcher’s gear, 9 baseball gloves, a couple bats and some baseballs. All teams were given a baseball hat and t-shirt with their team name on it.
- Lack of baseball fields/facilities
- Lack of essential equipment (baseball gloves, baseballs, bats, and helmets)
- Lack of available and knowledgeable coaches
The biggest problem regarding Serbian baseball at this time is the lack of baseball fields. Without the proper facilities there is nowhere to facilitate the new growth or potential growth of baseball in any Serbian city.
Quickly behind the lack of fields is the massive lack of bare essential equipment. Teams are sometimes practicing with less than 10 baseballs, bats that are so old they have no grip, and maybe 9 gloves to share amongst them. There is no available equipment for new players to participate in the sport though.
Because of the lack of experienced baseball players in Serbia, there is a lack of knowledgeable coaches. Players that have enough experience to assist in coaching are not available to help coach a team due to work schedule conflicts and again the lack fields does not allow for multiple teams to practice at late afternoon times. A proposed solution to this problem has been the employment of coaches for the formative years of youth baseball.
Solutions – Simply put
As a donor to the SBDA you would be directly supporting youth baseball in Serbia. The kids that are currently involved are full of passion for a sport that they have very little formal experience with. Kids in Serbia with no glove, a few baseballs, and maybe a hat show up to practices ready to do whatever is asked of them just to get the chance to throw the ball around with their teammates.
Baseball companies such as Diamond sports, Under Armour, and Rawlings have programs for non-profit organizations such as the SBDA to cut prices down on bulk equipment. We must establish ourselves financially to be able to purchase this reduced priced gear and be able to cover the costs of our services in Serbia.
If every American-Serbian were to donate $1 per year, the SBDA would be able to work functionally. This means programs to help coaches and players in Serbia could be afforded, building baseball facilities and donating baseball related gear would be a reality, and the establishment and organization of baseball as a whole in Serbia would be able to be put in place.