Baseball Australia today confirmed the cancellation of the 2021 Australian Youth Championship, which will be replaced with a range of localised content to ensure the development of the country’s up-and-coming talent is not negatively impacted.
Baseball Australia, Baseball Victoria and the other state and territory bodies unanimously agreed to the move – which comes in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic –following an extensive review which included consultation of athletes and teams that would likely have featured in the event.
Instead a range of local events will be held in each market to ensure players are afforded the opportunity to continue their development.
Baseball Victoria is working through the plans for what this event will look like in Victoria, keeping in mind the current COVID-19 situation and the Victorian Government’s roadmap to easing restrictions.
“Baseball Victoria is committed to offering a challenging and exciting experience for Victorian athletes who would normally be attending the Australian Youth Championship,” Baseball Victoria CEO Kristie Middleton said.
The event will still have a tryout component, allowing all Victorians in the age group to aim for selection to the competition, and as part of the overall planning with Baseball Australia, we expect the event to be held at the start of January 2021.
“As has been the case throughout this entire year, we must remain flexible and develop realistic plans based on what we know about the COVID-19 situation and what is best for the health and safety of our players. Any event will be subject to Victorian Government guidelines and we may need to make changes to accommodate the circumstances in the coming months. We look forward to providing more details in the coming weeks.”
Baseball Australia performance pathways and player development general manager Michael Crooks said a number of factors came into the decision, including health implications, logistical challenges presented by quarantine measures and financial risk.
“It’s a bitterly disappointing outcome,” Crooks said. “But our goal now is to ensure with the support of states and territories we provide enough opportunities to affected athletes to continue their development. By doing this we can minimise the long-term disruption on our up-and-coming prospects and keep open the pathway they’ve worked so hard to climb.”
The tournament, which traditionally takes place during the January school holiday period and includes U-16 and U-18 age brackets, will be replaced by local series.
Details for the local series will be released in coming weeks but each event would be preceded by a showcase for college and professional scouts. The local series will see each market’s top talent given the chance to go head to-head.
Following the state events, the U-16 and U-18 National Junior Squads will be selected from the participants.
Both squads would be invited to a camp in Canberra over the Easter period should government restrictions allow it.
The squads, subject to restrictions, would also head to Florida for a PerfectGame event prior to the U-18 World Cup later in the year.
If international border restrictions prevented it, athletes would again attend a National Junior Squad camp in Canberra.
Technology partnerships with Rapsodo and Driveline’s TRAQ software will ensure accurate player profiling, and the collected information will be collated and distributed to the professional scouting and college network to maintain international exposure for players.
Baseball Victoria is working closely with Baseball Australia to confirm details of the local series which will be communicated accordingly.