SWABI: Four players belonging to the Swabi district have joined the training camp of Pakistan Baseball Federation (PBF) set up in Lahore to select players who would go to America to compete in the World Cup baseball qualifying rounds there.

This was disclosed by Khalid Khan, general secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Baseball Association (KPBF), in an exclusive chat with Dawn here on Friday.

The camp in Lahore started from Feb 1 and is scheduled to continue till March 3.

“The qualifying round would be played in the US from March 6 to 15 and I am confident that if the Pakistani players play with complete determination they would shine on America’s soil,” said Khalid.

There are six teams in each group and two top teams from every group will qualify for the World Cup. “Brazil, France, Germany, South Africa, Nicaragua and Pakistan are in the same group,” added Khalid.

In Lahore, a total of 30 players from all over the country are participating in the camp which is being held at University of Central Punjab (UCP) ground. “About 18 players would be selected besides six officials of the federation for the Pakistani team to America,” he said.

Khalid further said that it has been planned that the players would move from Lahore to Pakistan Sports Board, Islamabad and will fly from the capital to America. “The team is expected to be announced by baseball federation on March 4 and on the following day they are scheduled to leave for US,” he said.

Speaking about the four players of the Swabi district selected for the camp, he said that they are competent and well-trained and are expected to be selected while two more players from Swabi may also join the camp later.

Khalid, who also works as coach, said that the four players of the district namely Mohammad Waseem, Mohammad Haris, Jawad Khan and Ihthishamul Haq are fit and excited about the event. “Ihthisham is a 24-year-old while all three remaining players are under the age of 21,” he said.

The Swabi players have received training in Yousafzai Baseball Academy Swabi which has helped them to join the federation training camp.

Answering a question, Khalid said that at early stage there was a big issue of female baseball players in the province but slowly and gradually the girls have also started to take interest in the baseball game. “Now, we have more girls baseball players in the province than the boys and their number is increasing further with the passage of time,” he said. “Some of the girls belonging to Swabi have already played at the national and Asian level baseball competitions,” he revealed.

Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2020