From March 9-12, eighteen teams from six countries came to Dzialdowo, Poland for the three day Dzialdowo Cup baseball tournament, now in its 18th year. With teams from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, Moldova, and Russia and more than 250 girls and boys up to 14 years old, the baseball tournament is a testament to the popularity of baseball both here in Poland as well as the region. It is also a result of the hard work and dedication of the many coaches and players in growing the game of baseball, especially the work of Al Koproski, a Polish-American who returned to Poland over twenty years ago and introduced the game to the city, and Zdzislaw Ziolkowski who organizes the tournament as well as coaching one of the local teams. There is also the support of the local and municipal governments who continue to invest in the growth of the game as well as supporting the tournament each year.
Assistant Cultural Affairs Attache Scott Whitmore represented the Embassy and handed out trophies and medals to the participants including to the winning team from Minsk, Belarus. In addition to dignitaries from the local government and members of Al Koproski’s family, Christopher Sweeney, the President of the Polish Baseball and Softball Federation, also handed out awards and highlighted how impressed he was with the number and quality of teams represented at the tournament. As more proof that the game of baseball continues to grow here in Poland, the Polish national baseball team won the European Championship C-pool tournament last year and advanced to the B-pool which will be hosted by Poland in Miejska Górka July 24-30. And the Polish Baseball and Softball Federation was recognized as the 2016 Federation of the Year by the Confederation of European Baseball based on their cooperation with the confederation and success in international tournaments.
The U.S. Embassy, through its Sports Diplomacy Program, supports all efforts to increase participation in sports at all levels and abilities. Sports diplomacy uses the universal passion for sports as a way to transcend linguistic and sociocultural differences in order to bring people together. Participation in sports teaches leadership, teamwork, and communication skills that help young people succeed in all areas of their lives. For more information about the Polish Baseball and Softball Federation go to: http://www.baseballsoftball.pl/