South Africa’s only baseballer playing in the US’s prestigious Major League, Mpho “Gift” Ngoepe, is coming to Cape Town next week to conduct clinics and assist in developing local talent.
The 27-year-old hotshot shortstop, who played for Pittsburgh Pirates last season will move to the Toronto Blue Jays next season. He has been engaged by Play Sport4Life to be part of a number of baseball clinics to be run during the December schools holiday period.
Play Sport4Life head Miles October said obtaining the services of Ngoepe for the clinics was “a stunning coup” for the Cape Town-based not-for-profit community organisation.
“You can say we’ve hit a homer with bases loaded in getting Ngoepe to join us,” October said.
“In all my 40 years of being connected with baseball in Cape Town, this is, without a doubt, the most significant high-profile player to be involved with us. He is a current Major League Baseball player in North America and that is where the world’s best play.”
October said Ngoepe was amenable to being part of the clinics because “he shared Play Sport4Life’s objectives”.
“Our organisation aims to improve the lives of the disadvantaged communities through sport and Ngoepe can relate to that. His is a success story that most children in the disadvantaged community can only dream of.
“Ngoepe’s mother was employed as a domestic worker at the clubhouse of the Randburg Baseball Club. She lived on the premises with the young Ngoepe and that kickstarted his interest in baseball. Now he is playing in the best baseball league in the world.”
October said the finer details of the clinics were still being put in place, but they would form part of Play Sport4Life’s regular school holiday programmes. “I have no doubt that skills development and talent identification will be a major part of it. Ngoepe will be a terrific role model for the kids who attend our holiday programmes,” he said.
The Holiday Programme will run from December 4-15.
It will be held at Mimosa Primary School in Bonteheuwel from December 4-6, at Bongolwethu in Phillippi on 7 and 8, at Rygendal Primary School in Atlantis from 11-13, and in Kensington at the 14th Avenue sports field from 11-15.
“Ngoepe will be assisting our coaches to teach the kids baseball and softball.”
On Saturday, December 9, Ngoepe will be a guest at the Maitland Giants vs Crusaders games at the 14th Avenue sports ground.
“We hope there is a good turnout because it is an opportunity to learn from one of our best. It doesn’t come around often. And he is someone the kids can identify with,” October said.
“Ngoepe is living testimony that dreams can be achieved if you work hard in pursuing them, no matter the situation at home.”