2019 African Baseball Championship and Olympic Qualifier

Photo from Ghana Baseball and Softball Federation Facebook page.

According to various sources, 2019 will feature the first African Baseball Championship since 2007, with the winner advancing to a final Olympic qualification tournament for Tokyo 2020. A total of 17 nations have been invited to play, with five federations tabbed for their international debuts. The nations have been divided into four zones, each of which will contest qualifying rounds in March and April before moving on to the championship. These tournaments have been developed by the WBSC, apparently with input from federations, though information on the actual organisation has been hard to find.

The four winners will meet in South Africa to play the Africa Championship from May 1-5, hosted by the Boksburg Baseball Club in Johannesburg, which did an excellent job with the France-South Africa series in November. It will be the fourth continental championship in Africa, following events in 1999, 2003, and 2007, with most nations dormant since that latter date. The winner of this continental championship will then move on to the Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifier in Bologna and Parma, scheduled for Sep. 18-22.

Zone West 1
Africa has traditionally been broken down into six zones, which have been contracted into four for this qualification process. The first is Zone West 1, hosted by Ghana from March 22-24 at the Labone Secondary School in Labone, a suburb of Accra.

In addition to the host nation, three other countries have been invited: Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, and Togo. All but neophyte Ivory Coast participated in the 2007 West Africa Championship, the only other tournament in which Burkina Faso and Togo have played. This would be Ghana’s fourth tournament, though it has also played at least one friendly.

Photo from Ghana Baseball and Softball Federation Facebook page.

Zone West 2
Zone West 2 will be played in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, between March 21-25. The four countries invited are Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, and Tunisia. Cameroon last participated in the 2007 African Championship, at which Nigeria was a competitor. Like Ghana, Nigeria has played in three prior tournaments, while the DRC and Tunisia would be making their senior national team debuts. It is worth noting that our only contact in Congo believes he is the only baseball player in the nation.

Photo from Baseball Tomorrow Academy Facebook page.

Zone East

The third pool, Zone East, has Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia grouped together at the Lenana School in Nairobi. The tournament is scheduled for April 5-7. Only Uganda has played in an African Championship, though the first three teams held the East Africa Championship in 2017, transitioning to a youth club tournament a year later. Zambia played a few friendlies in 2006 and 2007, its last action.

Photo from Baseball Federation Kenya Facebook page.

Zone South
The final pool, Zone South, will be hosted by Boksburg. In addition to South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Zimbabwe have been invited for the tournament, scheduled for 23-26 April. After headlines that Mozambique would develop a former bull-fighting arena into a baseball stadium [link], we had hoped the nation might also make its debut.

This group has a mixture of fairly active nations by African standards (Lesotho, South Africa, and Zimbabwe) with two countries for whom we have absolutely no information. Botswana has been making quick progress in softball, but even its softball federation is unaware of baseball being played. Namibia has never been mentioned in either context.

The greatest challenge for the success of these tournaments is whether federations will be able to fundraise enough money to participate. There are few airlines flying between African cities and the prices are extremely high (often well over €500 one-way), with motorways not nearly the speedy option as elsewhere in the world.

More from us as the situation develops, so make sure you are following along @ExtraInningsUK (or even bookmark us if you do not have a Twitter account).

Final photo courtesy of Catherine Buckley. 

About Gabriel Fidler

Extra Innings UK covers baseball around the world, focussing on the sport at the national team level, with features on prominent players, scouting reports, and occasional breaking news. We are fully credentialled by MLB and have covered the World Baseball Classic, continental championships, and the U.S. minor leagues.
This entry was posted in Africa, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to 2019 African Baseball Championship and Olympic Qualifier

  1. Pingback: 2019 Africa Baseball Championship Qualifiers, Invited Teams revealed - International Tournaments, Olympic Qualification Tournament - Mister Baseball

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