Tony Rogolifoi is looking at several young talents that could become members of the CNMI national baseball team and represent the Commonwealth when Saipan hosts the Pacific Mini Games three years from now.
Rogolifoi, who guided the CNMI to the gold-medal win in the 2011 Pacific Games in New Caledonia, has decided to keep the names to himself but would make the recommendations when they start forming the squad for the 2021 Mini Games.
“I see a lot of young players who have the potential. All they need are rigorous training and some experience in international tournaments. Come 2021, these players will be in their prime,” Rogolifoi told Saipan Tribune.
“They would be at their peak at that time. Just in time to go up against the best in the [Oceania] region.”
Some of these players saw action in the Saipan Baseball League’s Under 25 division and will also play in the SBL 2018 season. Senior leaguers in the Saipan Little League are also possible candidates since they would be around 19 or 20 by 2021.
Baseball will be making a comeback in 2021 after the sport was last played in the 2011 edition of the region’s quadrennial sporting event. Baseball was not included in the 2013 Mini Games in Wallis and Futuna, 2015 Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea, 2017 Mini Games in Vanuatu, and in next year’s Pacific Games in Samoa.
With the sport back, Rogolifoi said that as hosts, the CNMI must form a strong team that is capable of winning the championship in the island’s favorite past time. “We must put our best foot forward, since we’re the hosts.”
He added that six teams had already confirmed their participation in the baseball competition. The list includes 2011 Pacific Games runner-up Guam, bronze medalist Palau, American Samoa, the Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, and New Caledonia.
Meanwhile, before concentrating in the 2021 Mini Games, Rogolifoi will first focus on the 2018 Micronesian Games as the CNMI aims to to reclaim the gold medal it last won when Saipan hosted the event in 2006.