HAVANA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The Cuban Baseball Federation (FCB) and U.S.-based Little League Baseball International (LLBI) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding to contribute to developing the sport on the island.
In a press conference at Havana's Latinoamericano Stadium, Stephen Keener, president and CEO of LLBI, said the agreement includes Cuba's participation in its worldwide events and the Little League World Series in the U.S. every year.
"This is an international organization that has an obligation to help the development of youth baseball all over the planet. We agreed to bring resources to Cuba like equipment, uniforms, experts to improve playing fields and clinics for the children," he said.
He explained that on this first occasion, the island's 12-and-under team will first square off in the Caribbean qualifiers scheduled to take place in Curacao from July 12 to 21.
If the Cuban squad wins the tournament it will represent the Caribbean area at the 73rd Little League World Series to be held in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania in August.
"The program has a community development purpose. Therefore, starting in 2020, the participating team will be the winner at the national level among all Cuban municipalities," he added.
According to Higinio Velez, president of FCB, this opportunity represents an "acknowledgement" of the high quality of baseball in the Caribbean nation and will contribute to its development at youth level.
"We think that Cuba will be a worthy representative of the Americas in this type of championship. This helps us even more and is an encouragement for children, families, and coaches to be able to represent Cuba in an event of this magnitude," said Velez.
The FCB official recalled that Cuba has won the world title on several occasions across various youth categories.
"We will be able to compete in the LLBI tournaments and World Series, which have great popularity not only in the U.S. but throughout the world, by convening competitors from various regions," he added.
The event is held annually and has been likened to a youth version of the World Baseball Classic, although the program is more comprehensive and includes training clinics and other initiatives that help foster children's love of the game.
It includes teams from across the Caribbean, Latin America, the U.S., Europe, Asia-Pacific and Australia.
This is the third agreement between the FCB and international baseball organizations, after pacts signed last December with Major League Baseball (MLB), and six years ago with the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation.