The Distinguished audience watching the tournament
Sri Lanka’s position as a sporting destination was re-defined yet again with the successful staging of West Asia Baseball Cup 2019 edition at the Japan Friendship baseball stadium in Diyagama from July 15th to 20th.
It was also a D-Day to SriLanka for winning the coveted competition after a nail biting final with Pakistan. SriLanka’s victory also paved the way for the country to play in the Asia championship scheduled to be held in Japan later this year.
This premier sporting event for the baseball player from West Asia, well received by participants and spectators, took place under the patronage of Masatake Yamanaka, the President, Baseball Federation of Japan. Mr. Kishu Gomes, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunarathne and Mr. Prasad Daluwatte, Director Events, Sri Lanka Tourism, were among the other distinguished guests. .
Six competing countries including India, Pakistan, Iran, Nepal, Bangladesh took part in the tournament this year. Highlights of the tournament includes the meeting of India with Pakistan in the semifinals, Bangladesh’s first ever appearance at an International Baseball tournament along with the participation of the Nepal, Pakistan and Baseball federation of Asia which includes 23 countries in its membership as well as the live telecast of the finals on Taiwanese television and website.
President of the Baseball Federation of Japan Mr Mastake Yamanaka referred to the 2019 edition held in Sri Lanka as the “best West Asia Cup tournament organized to-date” while Sayed Ali, the President of the Pakistan Baseball association said that the “tournament has been amazing with a great following for local teams which is a rarity.” He commended the atmosphere adding that it was fantastic to be part of the crowd and to also watch the matches.
The Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau records that over 180 foreign participants took part for the week long event. Locals from the area flocked to the event to cheer the host country. Although baseball was introduced in 1985 the sport never gained popularity until the Sri Lanka team began to bag accolades in 2011. In 2017, the national baseball team won the West Asia Cup in Pakistan. The sport continues to receive much recognition as the President of the Baseball association in Sri Lanka is also the director for development for the West Asian Region.
The West Asia Baseball Cup in 2019 is the first ever largest international baseball competition in Asia, created in 1994 by The Asian Baseball Cup aims to be one of the most important Baseball tournaments of the world. This is the first international baseball event to be held in Sri Lanka.
‘’ It is my pleasure to be a part of this international event, which will no doubt will boost Sri Lanka as a sports tourism destination and bring more recognition to Baseball as a sport in Sri Lanka and take it to a global level. It will also bring much revenue and encourage more tourists to explore the many opportunities Sri Lanka has to offer as a tourist destination ‘’, said Mr. Kishu Gomes, Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, speaking at the event.
Significant progress has been made since the tournament in 2009, when Sri Lanka consistently won the Asia Cup Bronze medal in 2009, 2012 East Asia Cup Silver medal, 2015 West Asia Cup Bronze medal and 2017 West Asia Gold medal. The West Asia Baseball Cup in 2019 was hosted by island country Sri Lanka for the first time and it was the first time The West Asia Baseball Cup was held in South Asia.