It’s game on for a team of Langley Little League baseball players.
The Langley All-Stars, a select group of 11, 12 and 13-year-olds, are off to Uganda next month as part of a humanitarian baseball trip.
The players — who represented Canada as the national champions at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. — are heading to the African country as part of Pearl of Africa Series from Jan. 15 to 21.
The initiative is a week-long event including games, activities, and community demonstrations. It is being organized by Right To Play, an international humanitarian and development organization, Ruth Hoffman, a Vancouver woman who came up with the initial idea for the trip, and the producers of the documentary Opposite Field, which was already in the process of creating a project on baseball in Uganda.
Uganda was scheduled to face the Langley team at the World Series, but the Ugandan players were denied visas to enter the United States due to some discrepancy in their paperwork.
When Hoffman heard the story of their plight, she hatched the idea to send the Langley team to Uganda.
With $115,000 raised, $40,000 is still needed to meet the $155,000 target. That money will cover sending the Langley baseball players to Uganda, as well as creating educational scholarships and other opportunities for Ugandan youth as part of a legacy fund.
Organizers had set a target deadline of early December to come up with at least $75,000 of the money before finalizing the rest of the trip.
“The response thus far to the Pearl of Africa Series has been inspirational and we are relying on community and corporate support to ensure that we can make the maximum impact with this initiative,” Robert Witchel, the Canadian national director of Right To Play, said in a press release.
“The visit has been funded and now we want to ensure that the legacy of this great project is secured.”
The legacy projects for the Ugandan youth include scholarship programs, funding for travel to participate in international tournaments and money to build baseball diamonds.
The Langley players are scheduled to be honoured at the Vancouver Giants Western Hockey League game on Saturday (Dec. 10) at the Pacific Coliseum.
Fans can also meet the players at a pair of Giants games later this month (Dec. 27 and 30).
The Langley team is also collecting donations of new and used baseball equipment which will be sent to Uganda.
They are also fundraising on their own to raise money in order to bring both parents with them to Uganda — Right To Play is covering the cost for one parent for each child to accompany them.
Anyone wishing to contribute, can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To make a donation to the Pearl of Africa Series, visit www.righttoplay.ca.