*10 States to contest for honours
*Senate President Baseball and Softball Cup
Ten states have signified interest to participate in the forthcoming National Baseball and Softball championship in honour of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki billed to commence Wednesday in Ilorin.
Tagged “Senate President Baseball and Softball Cup” the championship will hold at the Baseball Park, Adewole, Ilorin and will end on the 10th of next month.
The coordinator of the championship, Femi Abolarin said the competition would be an opportunity to discover talents and prepare the players for the All African Games and the Olympics.
History of the Baseball and Softball Park: When it was built and commissioned by the then Vice President, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu on 21st November, 1991, the Baseball Park in Adewole, Ilorin was the first in the whole of Africa. And today, it is still the only Baseball Park in Africa because no one has been built since then.
The Park was conceived by those who introduced the sport into Nigeria and to Kwara state, to develop the sport. But the story has changed. The Park is now a mere events center, far beyond the development of baseball and softball. The sport is coming back with the championship in honour of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
Findings by www.gongnews.net revealed that between 2005 and now, the facility is nothing more than a place for staging marriage ceremonies and other social functions. It has also served at some point, as venue for Kwara Trade Fair. With that, baseballers and softballers now train in one of the open spaces at the Kwara state stadium.
General Ishola Williams: The twin sport of Baseball and Softball were introduced to Nigeria by General Ishola Williams (retd) in 1989. It was introduced to Kwara state by the General in 1990, through Pa David Akintola, the former Director of Sports in the state.
Pa David Akintola, an educationist and former Principal of Cherubim and Seraphim College, Ilorin was instrumental to the development of baseball and softball in the state.
According to available records, the first team that worked with Pa David Akintola in popularising the sport in the state include Coach Jide Abidoye, Mrs. Vicky Olumudi, Justice Akanbi Lambo (who was then the Commissioner for Sports), Alhaji Lamidi Alabi (former Director at the Ministry of Sports), Senator Smart Adeyemi (who was then the Secretary), Alhaji Salahu Babatunda Batandee, late Tunji Yahaya and Bayour Issah.
Cherubim and Seraphim College: Kwara baseball team was also formed. The team’s athletes were students of that College. That made their school the first training ground in Nigeria. That is why Cherubim and Seraphim College formed the first set players. The team participated and won the first competition it competed in, the inaugural championship in Minna, Niger state in 1990. The team also participated in a championship in Canada between July and August in 1991. After returning from Canada, the team shifted its training base to the Kwara state stadium.
It was the performance of the team, coupled with the efforts of General Ishola Williams and Pa David Akintola that encouraged the then Military Administrator, Alwali Jauji Kazir to build the Baseball Park in 1991.
The Park contributed immensely to the growth and development of the sport in the state and Nigeria. The Park was leased out by the government in 2005 for reasons which were not made known. Our findings revealed that in 2005, the then Chairman of the Kwara State Baseball and Softball Association, Alhaji Jani Ibrahim, through his Company, Lubcon Limited, sought and obtained permission from the state government to lease the facility.
And from then, it ceased to be a facility to develop baseball and softball. It became a venue for parties and other social functions, Trade Fairs and others.
Kwara Sliders Baseball and Softball Club: Initially, Kwara Sliders used to train at the Park every Fridays and Saturdays. The club which initially and that was when events have not been scheduled to hold there. And sometimes, they have to clean it after an event had taken place there, before they train. Kwara Sliders Baseball and Softball is among the four existing teams in the state presently.