Little League

Dubai Little League Winter Classic: Big boost for Dhahran’s baseball community

Local teams take two titles at first international tournament in years.

Dubai Little League Winter Classic: Big boost for Dhahran’s baseball community

The last time teams from Dhahran traveled to Dubai for a baseball tournament was the spring of 2019. Later that fall, a second contingent traveled to Singapore for a tournament.

 

It had been nearly four years since youngsters from the Dhahran Youth Baseball Association had competed internationally. This past week, squads returned to Dubai to compete again.

 

It was worth the wait.

The Saudi Hawks won 8U and 12U championship games at the Dubai Winter Classic, an international Little League baseball event held annually in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Teams from Hong Kong, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and the UAE came together to compete during the tournament, which was from Jan. 20-22.

 

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Two of the 47 players represented Dhahran on other countries’ teams, says Makechenie: 13-year-old Andrew Miletic played for Singapore’s team, helping to win the 14U championship by hitting a home run; and 16-year-old Ryan Kabbara was the starting pitcher for Qatar’s 18U team.

Life lessons 

“We are thrilled that regional tournaments are once again an option for our players,” says DYBA president Glenn K. Makechnie. “It’s invaluable for player development, but even more importantly, it binds our baseball community together.

 

“We are focused on developing a fun and welcoming community surrounding baseball,” says Makechnie, who added that life lessons learned on the field build better humans. 

“We have players from all around the world who do not come from ‘baseball families’ participating at a variety of skill levels within each age group, so it’s important the environment in DYBA is uplifting, positive, and welcoming.”

 

Makechenie gave credit to Aramco’s Community Services for providing excellent facilities and support for the growth of baseball within the company, providing great benefit to the children and dependents of Aramco employees.

Bringing home the trophy

For Saudis on the teams, they not only represented DYBA but also their home country, since the Saudi Hawks teams participated as official representatives of the Saudi Baseball and Softball Federation. 

 

“Bringing home the championship trophy in two age groups is wonderful for the Saudi players,” says Makechnie.

 

Brothers Faisal,10, and Mohammed Alammar, 9, both played on the Hawks 10U team. “Baseball is the kind of sport that makes them excited and energized when everyone starts cheering for their team,” says their mother, Sarah Aldossari, adding that she is grateful for the life lessons they gain from playing. Both boys have been playing baseball since 2018.

That’s not long after coach Clyde “T.J.” Koons joined his son CJ’s DYBA baseball journey. As one of the more seasoned travel ball families, 12U coach Koons says international tournaments not only give players a venue to showcase the growth they’ve made, but that they’re also a lot of fun. 

 

“The kids have a blast competing with players from across the GCC and Asia, becoming friends with players from other countries,” says coach Koons. “Our championship was only possible because of the contribution of each and every player on our team.”

 

Caption from top photo: 12U Hawks win in a walk-off after Omar Phillips Granados’s inside the park home run, and a close play at home plate. (All photos courtesy of Saudi Baseball and Softball Federation.)

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