On December 16 in Wroclaw six Polish public schools participated in the first Play Ball baseball tournament, celebrating the final stage of a pilot program that introduces Polish students to the game of softball and baseball. Deputy Cultural Affairs Officer Scott Whitmore attended the tournament, met with local organizers and officials and handed out prizes and awards to the 100 student athletes who took part. Play Ball (www.play-ball.pl) is an innovative pilot program organized by the Wroclaw baseball sports club with support from the local government that offers free baseball and softball instruction to young Polish students through their local schools. The program includes a website with instructions on the game, lesson plans and curriculum for teachers, equipment for participating schools and follow up training for players and coaches.
The final game of the tournament was tense match between PS No. 1 and 44, with PS 44 squeaking out a win in the last inning (period). Congratulations to all of the teams and the organizers for bringing baseball into the schools and for all the hard work to make this tournament a success. U.S. Embassy Warsaw supports initiatives such as this as part of our Sports UP initiative that uses sports diplomacy to connect the United States (U) and Poland (P). Polish youth increasingly look to the EU rather than the U.S. for employment, study and other opportunities. One of our primary objectives is to increase the popularity of and participation in sports, primarily American sports, as a way to connect with a new generation of Poles and teach them positive values of leadership, teamwork, responsibility and tolerance.