A Saanich team will get a chance to represent Canada at the Little League Baseball World Series, when the city hosts the 2020 Canadian Little League Baseball Championships.
Layritz Little League – playing out of Layritz Park – will be one of seven Canadian teams competing for a chance to play in the Little League World Series held in South Williamsport, Pa.
“This is a really historic day for our park, and we are really excited about this,” said Troy Dunning, acting tournament committee chair and vice-president of baseball of Layritz Little League.
The site of the Canadian championship moves annually and Saanich last hosted the tournament in 1991 – also at Layritz Park.
Layritz Little League now faces two challenges, said Dunning. The first one consists out of organizing the actual tournament, with a budget Dunning estimated to be around $175,000.
Dunning said Layritz Little League has already been in discussion with the District of Saanich, Sporthost Victoria and other organizations.
“There are a number of organizations that we are going to be reaching out to and looking for some support, some sponsorship, some donations of their time and resources, and their money,” he said. “Somebody asked me what I need. I need two things. I need money and I need people, and I am not sure it is in that order. We need people and lots of them.”
The second challenge lies in building a team to play in Canada’s national championship. Boys and girls who will be 11 or 12 years old by Aug. 31, 2020 will be eligible for the team, said Dunning, adding Layritz will also be able to do some recruiting. “Anyone can play baseball at Layritz under the provision that you must either live or go to school in our catchment region,” he said.
Dunning said hosting the tournament will also create a need to hire a dedicated manager for the team that will play in tournament.
“They have a huge task,” he said. “We would want to see our Layritz team compete and compete well.”
The teams competing at Layritz will include the champions representing the regions of B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
The tournament consists of two parts, a round-robin portion where each team plays its opponents once, as well as a playoff featuring the best four teams of the round-round portion. They will play two semifinals with the winners advancing to the final, with the winner will representing Canada.
“We have the opportunity to welcome seven amazing teams, their parents, their friends, their families, and we want to showcase Layritz,” said Dunning.
It is also an opportunity to leave a mark for the future. “We want to leave something for the baseball community, for our municipality…so we will be working towards putting together some sort of legacy program,” he said.