MCLL in Africa
MCLL Advances Baseball in Africa
Longtime MCLL Board member and coach Ray Thomas first visited Africa in 2017 -- on a mission to promote baseball and specifically, Little League in Nigeria and Kenya. Thomas and coaches from the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy have traveled to the continent three times since then to counsel District Administrators, recruit and train coaches, provide much-needed equipment and apparel, and work to get players and families excited about Little League -- or as Thomas calls it, “Develop Little League culture.”
Ray believes both Nigeria and Kenya Little Leagues are more organized and closer to being able to field All-Star teams for the Europe-Africa Region. “In part due to our visits, more coaches have been recruited and trained, in particular, on how to prepare for the Little League All-Star season,” he said.
Winning the Europe-Africa Region is a realistic goal for these leagues, says Thomas. “It can be done with proper organization and fundraising for visas and travel. The latter remains a BIG challenge,” he said. Uganda, which borders Kenya, has twice won the Europe-Africa Region and advanced to the Little League World Series. “The bottom line is we are trying to help them grow their Little League programs through our collective experience.”
Covid paused the missions for the last few years, but the group plans another trip in 2023. Travel is funded by the U.S. embassies in Abuja and Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya.
For the Love of Baseball: Clement Mambo's Journey
Clement Mambo (pictured in a Montgomery County Little League hat, walking to practice) is a Little League coach in Nairobi, Kenya. The nearest baseball field is 200km and 6 hours away by public transportation.
Many, if not most of the players he coaches live in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. MCLL generously donated baseball apparel in support of Kenya Little League; the hats and uniforms were distributed by MCLL Board member and Coach Ray Thomas on separate trips to Nairobi in 2018 and 2019. MCLL has donated similar apparel to both Nigeria and Cameroon Little Leagues.
For a video snapshot of Clement's baseball journey, click here.