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Spitfires up and running

It’s official, Wairarapa’s new baseball club has been founded.

Last Sunday marked a memorable day for baseball enthusiasts in the region, as the Wairarapa Spitfires Baseball Club was officially set up.

Shane Fawdray of Greytown was the man driving the operation, and said Sunday’s meeting had been extremely productive.

“We went through the adoption of our constitution, and we’ve got our committee and our founding members.

“So essentially we’ve founded the club.”

The last part was getting the paperwork through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, but he was confident everything would be approved over the next few days.

Becoming an official club means they will be eligible to apply for funding, which is one of the things they will do, he said.

Establishing a local competition in time for next summer was the club’s primary goal at this stage.

“We’re aiming at the under-13 age grade.

“Our goal is to have three or four teams playing in a local competition, and then we’d also have an away team, which is essentially a Wairarapa representative team which can go to competitions outside the region.”

No need to panic if you don’t fit into the under-13 age category, however, as Fawdray said the club’s objectives centred around “inclusiveness”.

“When I say under-13 I use the term loosely.

“If you’re 8 years old and want to play, we will create an opportunity for you to play in one of those teams – it’s all about getting kids on the diamond.”

There were still plenty of things to work through, including deciding on a location for the club to be based, but Fawdray said the signs were already positive.

“Just this summer we’ve had some really cool moments.

“Whether it’s a kid putting on a glove for the first time and making a catch in the outfield, or a kid who hasn’t played before hitting a home run . . . it’s creating some different opportunities and some really cool things are happening.”

Former Seattle Mariners coach Gary Wheelock is in the Wellington region for three months to help grow the sport, and will spend some time in Wairarapa.

“His mandate is around coaching development for the greater Wellington region,” Fawdray said.

“For Wairarapa, we’ve asked for some coaching development sessions, and he will also come over and run sessions with our kids.”

Baseball New Zealand recently announced an agreement with Kentucky-based company Custom College Recruiting, aiming to create a clear pathway for Kiwi baseball players to secure scholarships to American universities.

“We were talking about how we would measure our success, and if we could get one kid from Wairarapa a scholarship, that’s how we’d define success,” Fawdray said.

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