Baseball coach confident ahead of Asian event (Dawn (Pakistan))

Pakistan baseball team’s Japanese coach Toma Irokawa is upbeat about defeating one of Asia’s strong teams China during the upcoming Asian Championship scheduled to be staged in Taiwan from Sept 16 to 20.

Irokawa, who joined the national team on Tuesday, is currently helping players hone their skills in a training camp organised for the Asian event at the Punjab Stadium.

Talking to reporters after a Pakistan Independence Day baseball match between Pakistan Greens and Imperial University held here on Thursday at the Punjab Stadium, Irokawa said: Pakistani players have the talent as well as ability to beat the strong Chinese side in the Asian Championships.

Besides Pakistan and Indonesia, four world’s top-ranked teams including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China are competing in the six-nation tournament.

Pakistan baseball team are also a rising one in the Asian circuit and have succeeded in attaining sixth position in Asia and could improve their ranking to fifth place if they beat China which might help them qualify for the World Classic Baseball Championships .

Irokawa said he was running his own club in Japan which had been producing four to five players at the national junior level in different age categories.

He said as the Pakistan baseball team were emerging fast, it inspired him to accept the offer of coaching Pakistan team, adding the boys were quite fit and he was here to prepare a team which could threaten top-ranked teams of Asia in future.

Meanwhile, Sports Board Punjab director general Usman Anwar who was the chief guest on the occasion said his department was ready to provide a playfield where baseball activities could also be held along with other disciplines.

Interestingly, there is no baseball stadium in Pakistan but the country has been able to attain sixth position in Asia which shows great potential in Pakistan players.

Usman said the SBP would encourage all federations in inviting foreign coaches to train the boys in the country.

Also, Pakistan Baseball Federation (PBF) president Khawar Shah said that the Sports Board Punjab had extended a helping hand in preparing the national team for the abovementioned event.

However, he expressed his disappointment with the Inter-Provincial Ministry saying the federation was expecting favour from the Inter-Provincial Ministry with regard to sending a strong team to said event.

He further said the Asian Championship was important because Pakistan could improve their ranking in Asia from current sixth position to fifth which he said would help in their World Cup qualification.

Pakistan would try their level best to win at least two matches against Indonesia and China, he said.