How It All Began
Chris and Erin
For my wife Erin and I it all started when we wanted to play catch on a Saturday afternoon in Lusaka, Zambia. One Saturday in February of 2016 we met up with another baseball enthusiast from Holland and practiced on a polo field in the middle of the city. After about 10-15 minutes there was this young man named "Given" who started watching us - he couldn't have been older than 12. As we threw the ball back and forth I remembered how excited I was to start up baseball here in Africa when I previously lived in Uganda, so I took a chance. I invited the young man over to play catch and we threw the ball back and forth. At the time I only had my glove so I gave it to him and taught him how to throw and catch the ball. Afterwards I noticed another kid watching us from the fence (whose name I would come to know as "Gift") so I invited him over to play. As I went through the same drills with Gift as I went through with Given my wife called to my attention another 10 young boys observing us from the same fence. With a warm heart all three of us invited them over to play too. After about an hour of throwing back and forth we asked the kids if they wanted to come back next week and they all agreed to return the next Saturday.
Since then we have practiced every Saturday morning in the capital city of Zambia in the same exact polo field. After only a few months time we picked up new players to participate in these so called weekend baseball clinics. We went from having about 10 kids the first week of practice to now we are up to 40 children some weeks and growing. The biggest help is when the older kids who played for the legacy Zambia's national team came out to help us practice. We were blessed to see these Zambian men teach the younger Zambians the basics in the local language. Since their arrival they have been instrumental in order to teach and coach the younger boys as they become familiar with the game themselves.
Marc and Rachel
When we decided to move to Kitwe, Zambia to help train pastors, I decided not to pack my glove as I knew soccer was the dominate sport here and worried I might not even have a another person to play catch with. About a few months in to our stay in Zambia I was talking with some of my coworkers and realized that there was indeed a general interest in the sport. So I asked friends and family to see if they could put together enough gloves for us to play a game and send it over with a friend who was coming over. We began playing with my fellow coworkers and the students at the college where I served. Soon others began joining (many who had never seen a glove before, and others from South Africa who had only swung a cricket bat). When an abandoned field next to our school opened up, we cleared it so we could make a baseball diamond and soon were playing baseball in Zambia! It was cool to see the excitement of those who were learning to play the sport and some were even watching videos on Youtube so they could learn how to play better.
It wasn't long after that one of the students mentioned a friend of his from church had heard about our softball/baseball games and wanted to join. I didn't know who he was, but when he introduced himself I found out he was the director of the former baseball association of Zambia and the new Sports Director at the 10,000+ student university next door to our college. As the students were on break he was interested in starting up some practices with whoever would come and so we showed up on an old soccer field and as the boys and girls saw this new game it wasn't long before there was a crowd. As none of the kids that came out had even seen a baseball or glove before, we had to start with the basics, but it became evident very quickly that many of them had some great skills at the game. What started out as about dozen or so boys and girls quickly escalated to over 40 boys and girls, and even though friends and family had sent more gloves, we still didn't have enough. Soon the older group was asking for a second practice during the week so they could develop their skills faster.
We love these kids and want to see them thrive in this new passion that they have recently developed through baseball. We want this to be an escape for them to leave their burdens at home, and come into a few hours of peace and fun without worry of tomorrow. Every Saturday morning we strive to give each of them a creative outlet to show off their talents and their heart.
Ultimately, there is a long road ahead and alot of work to be done in order to sustain a sport like baseball in Zambia. As fans of the sport and its stakeholders it starts with us, the baseball community, As fans of the game we have to want the sport to reach outside of it's traditional strongholds, to places foreign and distant. As a community we can all personally impact a child through the growth of baseball in Africa. For instance there is not a single baseball field built for public use anywhere in Zambia. With the help of the baseball community we can change that and make a home for a game in a place we could only dream. We know that these kids will only fall more in love with the game if they see the support come in. We are calling on anyone to help us grow baseball in Zambia and to develop an outlet for these kids to find a mentor. and create discipleship opportunities. We also feel that baseball can be a great conduit for missions not only to these kids but other expatriates looking to get involved.
Thank you for your time and your support to consider partnering with our cause to play baseball in Zambia. We are excited about what the Lord can do through this sport and through you if given a chance. We pray that we can continue talking about what this could look like and how we can further partner to build baseball into Zambians culture.
Chris and Erin McCurdy, Marc and Rachel Tanis