Thursday, 21st September 2023

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The Southeast Asian Baseball Championship, the cornerstone of true ‘baseball globalization’ (column)

 On the last weekend of February, something quite meaningful happened in Indochina. It was the first baseball championship held in Southeast Asia since the establishment of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

This was also something that could decorate a page in the history of Southeast Asian baseball. Until the 1950s, Asian baseball championships were held centered in the Philippines, but this is because it is the first time that Southeast Asian countries have competed in this way. In soccer, there was already a competition in Southeast Asia like the old Suzuki Cup (now the Mitsubishi Cup), but in baseball, such a competition itself was not held.

Former SSG coach Lee Man-su, who left for baseball missions to Southeast Asia, also dreamed of ‘creating the Suzuki Cup of baseball’. And in the nearly 10 years since Director Lee Man-soo started his baseball mission in Vietnam, starting with Laos, the invitational competition was held centering on the countries of the Indochina Peninsula. Thailand, the first winner, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam willingly participated in the event.

The significance of this tournament lies in the fact that it was held in Laos, which was no different from baseball’s barren land. Even when coach Lee Man-soo left the baseball mission, it was because the baseball field, of course, even the players were not properly equipped. In this very dry place, a baseball association was established, a formal national team was created, and even a baseball field was built. And now, new teams have been created in the southern and northern parts of Laos, so that their own league matches can be raised to the level possible.안전놀이터

As long as Laos has progressed this much, Director Lee Man-soo’s idea is that Vietnam, another baseball wasteland, is also possible. He is already promoting the construction of a baseball field centered on Lee Jang-hyeong, the head of Vietnam Baseball Support Group, and Tran Duc Phan, president of the Vietnam Baseball Association. Beyond this, they are considering even a ‘comprehensive sports center’, so the formation of a more advanced Southeast Asian league will not be a dream in the future.

Of course, this was not achieved through the efforts of one person alone. Director Lee Man-soo says that CEO Yoo Seung-cheol, who passed away until the ‘cornerstone’ was laid, came to mind first. Head coach Lee Man-soo said, “The rapid growth of the Laos national team players in a short period of time is because of the endless love and devotion of the late CEO Yoo Seung-cheol. Today, we have achieved such wonderful and excellent results (runner-up), and the players have been able to grow again. Once again I would like to thank CEO Seung-cheol Yoo, and also convey to all players and coaches how President Seung-cheol Yoo devoted himself to baseball in Laos and loved the players while alive.”

Of course, many countries in Southeast Asia do not even know if there is a sport called ‘baseball’ yet. Now, starting with the first competition, more efforts must be made to attract more countries to participate. We hope that in the next two competitions, more countries will be formed than the current four. The WBC is not alone in contributing to the ‘globalization of baseball’. It may be more important that these small tournaments gather and broaden the base of baseball.

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