June 30, 2020
(Philippine Daily Inquirer June 29) Parents of athletes don’t usually get the credit they deserve. They’re in the news usually about spats with coaches training their kids or with officials of their kids’ sports associations.
Not this group of pony baseball parents, which has gone out of its way to come up with an academy and help up with the grassroots development of baseball in the Philippines. And even the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t stopped these concerned parents from reaching out.
“They asked me if I can coach the kids,” international coach Jhoel Medin Palanog said. “Then we decided to expand it so we can reach out to more kids. So we put up the academy.”
Launched last December, the Samurai Baseball Academy has switched online due to the health crisis and saw its roster grow from just four teams of 60 players to 150 batters from 12 years old and up.
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The academy embraced Japan’s baseball style, which has become very successful internationally. One of the group’s advisers is Shogo Shibata, a former pitcher for Yomiuri Giants in the Japan League.
Japan is the top-ranked nation in the World Baseball Softball Confederation. The Philippines, the newly minted Southeast Asian Games champ, is currently No. 32.
Palanog teamed up with Raymund Tolentino, Jayvee de Venecia, Trinchy Garcia and Keiko Ozaita to establish the academy whose curriculum is now based entirely online.
They met two years ago when their children represented the Philippines in the Pony World Series in Washington, Pennsylvania.
“We are seeking the support of the Paba (Philippine Amateur Baseball Association),” said Palanog, who used to coach the Manila Sharks in the defunct Baseball Philippines.
Taking a breather from his coaching stint at International School Bangkok, Palanog said they have launched lessons for coaches in the provinces of Tarlac and Bataan and Marikina City. Now they are even expanding to Davao City.
“We want to reach out to the public schools, that’s why we have clinics for coaches via Zoom aside from our usual bases,” Palanog said. They started the academy from Manila Polo Club and Marikina Sports Complex.