By: Basil P. Tarasko, District Administrator of the Ukraine Little
League Baseball (1995 - ongoing)
Its Friday July 15th in Kutno Poland. The 2016 Ukraine’s Little
League Champions from Kirovograd defeated Belarus 7 - 0 to move on the
Sundays game against France.
A little over a month ago eight all star teams descended upon
Kremenets, Ternopil Oblast all in hopes of representing Ukraine at the
European Regionals in Poland. There were ninety-three 10 - 12 year olds
present which included six girls. All, with dreams of winning the
coveted Championship banner at the 17th consecutive Little League
Once again the Self Reliance (NY) Federal Credit Union came up to the
plate and covered the costs of the Championships. Thank you again for
helping me help the children in Ukraine. The children send their thanks
through their smiles.
The kids were eager to show off the skills that they learned in games
on the local level. Eleven games were played with Kirovograd and
Rivne LL reaching the finals on June first. The game was played on the
main soccer field. I would to thank the Mayor and the city
officials of Kremenets for donating their soccer field. Volodymyr
Mishko, Director of the Internat and host the games had to build a
portable backstop, portable dugouts and a temporary outfield fence
built in order to transform the soccer field to a LL field.
Sunday July 17, Ukraine was shut out 0 - 5 by the French team.
This loss relegated Ukraine to the losers bracket in this double
elimination tourney. Next loss would be fatal in their quest for the
title. Monday July 18, Ukraine met Lithuania. with the winner moving
on. Ukraine rose to the challenge and posted an 8 - 1 victory. On
Tuesday July 18, Hungary would be the next test for the Little Leaguers
from Kirovograd. In a slugfest Hungary outscored our boys 9 - 4. As
they say, wait till next year.
Rain and the threat of rain caused schedule changes in Kremenets. Last
year, the Championship game was never played due to rain. I vowed
that would never happen again. All but one game was played. Each team
here played at least three games.
In addition to the games, all the children competed in the annual
pitching contest with Kirovogard LL winning the team title. All the
children received at least two prizes when the lottery was held.
Special thanks to Eastern Region LL for donating the wonderful prizes.
Teams were free to visit the school museum and local attractions during
their free time. Some teams also visited the nearby monastery at
Pochaieva. The Ukraine Little League program combines games,
competitions and a cultural program to give each child a full wholesome
experience.Thank you again, Self Reliance for helping.
The Championship game was one sided and the Kirovograd LL defeated the
Rivne all-stars 7 - 1 to advance to Poland. Yet there were challenges.
Each player and coach needed a visa to enter Poland. An official letter
of invitation had to be sent from Kutno. we learned that visas were
“free”, This came as a relief to the parents of the 13 children. But
wait a sec, in order to get the documents to the Polish Consulate we
had to “pay” the Call Center to deliver the documents. Another
roadblock for the parents.
Relief came from an unexpected source. Since April I have served as a
volunteer for the Indian Valley LL near Kerhonkson, NY. As we got to
know one another I told Becky Stange, President of the League, about
the predicament of our team in Ukraine. Only six parents were able to
raise 510 hrynia for the visa service. The other parents just did not
have the funds, too poor. Roman Lopata, Manager of our team borrowed
money to pay the difference. Becky informed me that the Board of
Directors voted to donate their portion of a 50/50 raffle during the
playoffs. The League raised a little over $1000 to help our boys from
Kirovograd. Money was sent to Ukraine to repay the parents and Roman.
In addition, I sent money to Kutno and awarded each player 100 zloti so
they could buy an ice cream or a special souvenir. The remaining monies
will be spent on shipping baseball equipment to Slovyansk, a city very
close to Donetsk, now in Ukrainian territory.
Just a week ago I discovered that the children from the Donetsk
Orphanage #1, in separatist territory, were resettled to
Sloviansk. Donetsk #1 was a member of the Ukraine LL program
until the Russians and their supporters took over Ukraine’s land. I am
awaiting more information on how those orphans escaped Donetsk. I will
keep our readers informed when I receive the full story.
Word has come from the Slovyansk Orphanage that they want to
resume their LL program. But they have no baseball equipment. Was it
stolen? Burned? That question and more need to be answered. Equipment
will be shipped to these Little Leaguers thanks to the Indian Valley LL.
This coming September, 19 - 22, the 9th Ukraine LL Championship for
orphans and invited New Programs will be held in Kremenets. The
California Association to Aid Ukraine (CAAU) once again will serve as
the sponsor of this special event for children from all backgrounds.
Many thanks for their generosity during these unsettled times in
Ukraine. All the boys and girls look forward to this wonderful time to
showcase their talent and to win a few prizes at the annual lottery.
The invited LLs are: Kremenets LL. Mizoch LL, Kyiv LL (new) and the
Mikoyaliev LL (new) In addition the Horinka LL (new) and the Slovyansk
LL (new) are invited to play exhibition games.
This Championship concludes my 25th year as a volunteer in Ukraine
developing the Little League Baseball program. For more information or
to volunteer, please contact me as firstname.lastname@example.org. Glory to Ukraine.
The Championship city for the 17th Ukraine LL has been chosen.
As April approaches, the weather in Ukraine now allows the many Little Leaguers in Ukraine to play their first games after spending many months indoors. All our teams are sharpening their skills and boys and girls hope that they get chosen to play on their League’s all - star team.
I am proud to announce that the City of Kremenets and the Kremenets Internat LL will serve as hosts. Dates are May 29 - June 2. The games will be played on two fields, one on the grounds of the Internat and the City of Kremenets has offered their soccer stadium to be the second field. I do believe that this will be the first LL Championship in the world ever to be held on the grounds of an internat (orphanage).
The ages of teams range from 10 to 12. Each all - star team has one goal, win the 17th Championship and then travel to Kutno, Poland to represent Ukraine at the European Regionals. A win in Kutno and you can punch a ticket to participate at the LL World Series in Williamsport, PA in August. That is every child’s dream, it can happen.
The 9th Ukraine LL Championships for children from Internats and newly formed LLs will be held in Kremenets as well. The dates are September 18 - 22. This is an invitational tournament. I would like to welcome a new LL to the program. Four new teams have been formed in the city of Mikolayiev. I look forward to seeing those children compete in Kremenets.
The year 2016 is quite significant for me. This year marks the 25th year that I have traveled to Ukraine as a volunteer to help develop a youth baseball program. Much has happened in those years. Many have come and gone, I am still committed in helping the country of all my ancestors through sports.
I am looking for individuals and organizations who want to help me make these two Championships a very special time for the children participating. In addition to baseball games, there are cultural trips scheduled, skill competitions and the ever popular annual Lottery full of goodies for the children.
If any of the readers know of a school or orphanage that wants to add baseball to their school program, contact me. I can provide all the needed equipment and necessary training. All the school needs is a desire to play baseball. There is no cost to the school. Please reach out to your contacts in Ukraine. Thank you.
Please contact me at: email@example.com for more information.
Let me once again thank the Self Reliance (NY) Federal Credit Union and the California Association To Aid Ukraine (CAAU) as the major sponsors of my work with the children in Ukraine.
Glory to Ukraine
Basil P. Tarasko District Administrator - Ukraine Little League Baseball