THE return of baseball to the Olympics represents a huge opportunity to grow the game in Australia, according to Baseball WA chief executive Lachlan Dale.
With just over two years until Tokyo 2020, the Australian national team is eyeing the sport’s return to the tournament, having not featured at the Olympics since 2008.
Dale said the sport received a boost thanks to Australia’s silver medal in 2004 and predicted its Olympic return could provide a significant boost.
“It’s a pretty exciting thing. I remember in 2004, it was very exciting for Australia when we won a silver,” he said.
“There was a lot of hype around the sport once we were successful and that trickled down to grassroots level.”
He said Australian baseball would feel a positive knock-on effect from the Olympics and believed they could capitalise on that.
“The reality is the exposure and government support for an Olympic program hopefully means we’ll be successful,” he said.
“It’ll provide an aspirational goal for young baseballers to represent the country at the Olympics, they’ll see their icons and heroes and representing their country at the Olympics as one of proudest moments of a sportsperson’s career.”
One man hopeful of making the trip to Tokyo is Perth Heat manager Andy Kyle, who also serves as the Australian assistant coach.
Kyle said it would mean the world to be involved in an Australian side at the Olympics.
“It’s been a huge goal of mine to be involved in the national team and I’m starting to get experience in the role, it’s something I’ve always aspired to,” he said.
“I keep putting my hand up where needed and hopefully the opportunity arises.”
While Australia are currently ranked eighth in the world, Kyle said they faced a tough qualifying campaign to secure one of the five open spots in the tournament.
“We have the Premier 12 competition next year where the winner of that automatically qualifies, but if not, there’s a couple of other options, like the Asia Pacific tournament,” he said.