Junior Simunye proud to represent Africa at softball's Youth World Cup
The fact that most South Africans are not aware of a major youth championship kicking off this weekend, has not put a damper on Mamphiri Sethosa as he prepares the SA under-18 team for Softball Youth World Cup in New Zealand.
Sethosa's team is the only African representative in the tournament playing under the auspices of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), from from Saturday to March 1 in Palmerston North
Sethosa’s youngsters, known as Simunye Junior, were the last nation to qualify for the 12-team world championship after sweeping a three-game series against Nigeria in Abuja in December 2019.
The youth cup takes place in a historic year for the sport as it makes its return to the Olympic programme for the Tokyo Games in Japan later this year.
“We are all excited as a team. The boys are very happy to go and represent their country well," Sethosa said as the team’s were jetting out via Sydney in Australia on Tuesday.
"It is every athlete’s dream to play in a world cup so that is why everybody is excited.”
The team arrived safely Down Under from where they boarded a connecting flight to Wellington from where they will take another flight to Palmerston North.
“Ever since we qualified the boys have been working very sharp preparing for this tournament. This is the time for them to be rewarded and to go and play against their peers from around the world in a world championship.
“We are taking a group of 16 players accompanied by myself as the head coach and my assistant coach. We have been working very hard to put this team together over the past month.
“The technical team, the executive, the players, and the parents everybody are excited and we are all looking forward to this championship,” added Sethosa.
South Africa, who are ranked 10th in the world, are in a tough Group A that also contains three of the top five nations in the world.
Group A contains world No 2 Argentina, No 4 Canada, No 5 Australia, No 7 Czech Republic and No 17 Singapore.
Group B has top-ranked Japan, hosts New Zealand, world No 6 the USA, 8th ranked Mexico, 11th ranked Denmark and world No 21 Guatemala.
Following a five-day opening round, the top three squads from each group will advance to the next staged, dubbed "Super Round".
The two teams with the best record after the Super Round will play in the World Championship Game on March 1, while the third- and fourth-place teams will play for the bronze medal.
The SA is scheduled to return home on March 3.