Children And Baseball In Cuba • Latino Sports

Cuban Baseball

Children And Baseball In Cuba

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If there is one privileged class in socialist Cuba today it is the children of this republic. Everywhere I have traveled in this capital of over 2 million I have seen children in uniform going to school, playing in schoolyards, skateboarding, riding home made scooters and playing sports. They might not have the electronic hand held computer games, but there is definitely no lack of physical activity as can be seen by the lack of obesity in children here.

Education is mandatory in Cuba. If a family does not send their child to school the child will be removed from the home and it is regarded as a form of child abuse. That’s one big difference from baseball players in Cuba and those from other Latin countries. Here every baseball players has a minimum of a high school education and a large number have university level studies.

The privilege of being a child in Cuba is seen in the number of playgrounds and sports facilities throughout the different provinces. What might look like a regular playground with some kids playing a little league game is much more than that. Every time I stopped and saw one of these games I also saw a veteran baseball player coaching, or giving some type of instructions and many parents, or grandparents watching and encouraging the child.

Serious intensity from a 6yr. old playing shortstop. (Photo Latino Sports)

Serious intensity from a 6yr. old playing shortstop. (Photo Latino Sports)

I saw at least one, or two adult trained coaches teaching the kids techniques in fielding, batting and pitching. They were not just supervising the kids, but training them in all levels of the game. The training was effective as I saw intensity and focus from five year olds and up that was a sight to see. The kids were no joke!

That made me think of when my son wanted to play baseball I registered him in a baseball league in Washington Heights. The league did not have enough adult volunteers to keep one of the teams going so they asked me if I could volunteer to be the coach. If not they had to disband the team and my son would not be able to play. I volunteered and the kids were able to play for that season. However, I was not a trained coach and could only do so much for the little league team. We had a good season and the kids had a good time playing.

I could only imagine if I would have had a professional instructor, coach, or physical trainer helping out those kids. How many of them would have been able to develop any talent that they might have had? I remembered that our little league was more like a babysitting league as parents would drop off the kids and they were basically alone with me for hours until the parents returned after our game. That is not the case here. Parents, or other family members were always in the stands, or working out next to them in a makeshift type outdoor gym.

That is the difference in Cuba and why their system of developing baseball players is effective and abundant. Professional players might leave here to go to the U.S. to seek million dollar contracts, but there are, as one coach told me, “at least three to six kids developing to take their place.

Part 2 to follow….

About Julio Pabón

Julio is President and Founder of Latino Sports LLC., the parent company of Latinosports.com. Julio is a product of the South Bronx where he still lives and runs his businesses. Julio has written and has been interviewed for numerous publication and networks on sports & political issues. He has been an activist promoting social justice and respect for all communities. He is a recognized motivational speaker, was an adjunct professor of American History and presently volunteer's as a lecturer in local South Bronx High Schools. His primary goal is to make Latinosports.com a multi-facet sports portal that will engender social and economic empowerment to the Latino community.