The Trip, The Plea

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Posted on 30 December, 2013 by kcorona

The trip was planned to leave Friday morning from Belgrade, Serbia to Kutno, Poland in one long drive. Everything was organized around that time: international car insurance, international driving permits, kids’ lunches, changing money to Euros, and even laundry. Thursday around noon it was realized that there was a mandatory coaches meeting to take place Friday evening, a meeting we would surely miss if sticking to our original plans. Thus, the Serbian little league trip began, gathering all the kids a day in advance, forgoing exchanging money, gathering wet laundry (clean but wet), and leaving 15 hours sooner than planned. All this wouldn’t be such a problem if the van we use could go more than 60 miles per hour. All of this wouldn’t be a problem if we had multiple drivers for the trip. All of this wouldn’t be a problem had we enough funds to rent a bus to haul our 12 players and 3 coaches for the trip. Yet, none of these options we had. The beginning of a would be 18-hour drive to Kutno commenced Thursday evening with grey skies.

There are words to be said about that drive, words I cannot use here, in English nor in Serbian as to not offend anyone, but in the end we arrived all in one piece. As we exited the car at the Little League complex in Kutno, the kids gazed at a nicely manicured field with a look on their faces as though they’d seen a glimpse of heaven. Most kids started laughing in amazement saying “Ovo nije moguće u Srbiji” (this isn’t possible in Serbia). Keep in mind, this field, though beautiful and manicured, would be a very typical little league field in the U.S. For these kids to feel that it is not possible to have something such as that in Serbia is a shame. For us who grew up in the U.S. with sandlots and community parks featuring fields that are hardly used it is hard to appreciate what we had. It’s hard to imagine not having the chance, if so desired, to get some friends together and go hit a baseball on a baseball field, not a soccer field, not a plot of land with grass to mid-calf, but a field with an infield and an outfield, perhaps even a fence.

These kids have the same desire to play the game as many of us did growing up, maybe even more, but they lack a couple advantages that we had. First, many of these kids have never seen an MLB game and none have ever had the pleasure of entering an MLB stadium, sitting in the bleachers, cheering and spitting seeds. Yet they play. They don’t have the ease of going down to the local sports store and purchasing a baseball, a baseball glove, or a bat. Furthermore, if they did have the option to buy equipment in a local store, many wouldn’t have the funds to make the purchase. Yet, they play.

As we sit in our 3-bedroom homes, driving our $20,000 cars, throwing change to the occasional bum or buying cookies from a Girl Scout, these kids struggle to collect enough funds for teams to purchase baseballs. I often hear, “The SBDA is a nice idea! I’d love to help! Good luck!” and then crickets… Yes, the SBDA is a nice association. It’s goal is pure, the kids it aims to help are in need, yet it cannot survive solely on “good lucks” and positive thoughts. This association is like that of any other cause, it is reliant on its donor base. Let me say that again, reliant.

The greatest thing of all is that the association was not created for one person, one community, or one business to support yet it was created to be supported by thousands of people giving a little bit, getting involved in any way, and creating change in a country who is not used to positive change happening from outside.

When the SBDA was founded the initial goal was the have a working budget of $150,000 annually. Of course that sounds like a ton of money, especially with the state of the economy, however, if thousands of people were to join together and donate something small, such as the change lost in their couch or car annually, we would definitely surpass that goal and be much more proactive in developing baseball in Serbia. We would be much more active in developing positive change amongst the youth in Serbia. It is not important that it is through baseball, but we are working to develop youth. It is just a benefit for us that we can do so through baseball.

These kids love playing the game, we didn’t force them. That means you don’t have to be a fan of baseball to donate, you don’t have to be Serbian to donate, you don’t have to be a millionaire to donate. This association is a collective of people for giving kids a chance.

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