Botswana softball player moves to Japanese side

By Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE – Ghetto Yankees highly rated pitcher, Samuel Kunyalala has moved to Japanese side, Daiwa in a historic switch. However, the player will only train with the side with a view of signing.

No other player from Botswana has plied his trade in the Asian country, which is a softball powerhouse, ranked second in the world.

Kunyalala left this week for Japan after sealing a three-month training agreement with options of further staying if he impresses. The 19-year-old Kunyalala, who completed his secondary education last year, would be based in Osaki.

Kunyalala was part of the Botswana Under-19 side, which competed at the World Baseball and Softball Championships (WBSC) in Michigan, United States, last year.  It was at this tournament where the youngster caught the attention of the Japanese club.

However, there was a damper to his move when his club said they had not been consulted throughout the process.

Ghetto Yankees manager, Telly Rasesigo, says the club had only learnt of the interest on the player through the media, without the Botswana Softball Association (BSA) involving them.

Rasesigo says the club sought clarity from BSA on how the player was cleared without their input.

But BSA has not responded. “We do not know who facilitated our pitcher’s move to Japan,” he says.

Rasesigo says they have resolved to engage lawyers to help them obtain clarity from BSA. “We want to get to the bottom of the matter and understand how the player was transferred to another club without our involvement,” he           says.

Rasesigo says their intention is not to block the player’s move but it is a matter of procedure.

In response, BSA president Tirelo Mokokomani says the player has not signed but will train with Daiwa to improve his skills.

After the three-month period, Mokokomani says, the club has an option to sign him. “It is then that we would involve his local side. In the meantime, he will not take part in any of Daiwa team’s official games,” Mokokomani says, defending his association’s right to assist develop young talent.

Yankees was reportedly interested in compensation but that can only be possible if the player signs a deal.

The Japanese league attracts players from all over the world, including New Zealand and Australia.

Botswana was a feared softball powerhouse more than a decade ago but has been on a steady decline despite producing decent talent.

March 2017
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