With a quarterfinal slot in the International Softball Federation World Men’s Softball Championships in mind, the Blu Boys are leaving this weekend for Auckland, New Zealand for a two-week acclimatization prior to the start of the tournament set March 1 to 10.
The Philippines qualified for the world championship after finishing second to Asian champion Japan last year. It will join 16 other teams in the hunt for pride and glory, with defending champion Australia, host country New Zealand, which has won five titles already, the United States, also with five championships, and Canada, among the seeded teams.
“We finished 10th in the 2009 ISF Men’s World Championship and we have to be in the Top 8 this year to be included in the playoffs. It will not be easy for us, but we have been training even before the Asian Men’s Softball Championship started and our boys will be flying to New Zealand earlier for two weeks of training and conditioning. ASAPHIL is making sure that the team is prepared physically and emotionally for the World Championship,” said ASAPHIL president and sportsman/businessman Jean Henri Lhuillier.
As part of the training, ASAPHIL contracted Australian softball coach Maurice Paraha to work with Blu Boys head coach Roberto Itiuralde, himself a former Blu Boy in the 1970s, to help prepare the team.
“You have a good team. The players are all skillful and in fact, I can take some of them to play for my club team in Queensland. I think they have a good chance of making it to the quarterfinals,” said Paraha, who pointed out that what the team needs is more regular exposure to international softball.
Paraha also conducted a free four-day seminar for local softball coaches recently at the Philippine Sports Commission and shared his vast knowledge on all aspects of the game with the participants. Lhuillier graced the closing part of the seminar, which is part of ASAPHIL’s developmental program for the sport.