By Gary Anderson

January 30 - Officials from the Embassy of Japan and the UBSA open the new dedicated baseball and softball facility in Gayaza ©WBSCHistory has been made in Kampala as the first ever dedicated baseball and softball stadium was officially opened by the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association (UBSA).

The National Friendship Stadium, situated just north of the Ugandan capital in Gayaza, is the first full-size national baseball and softball facility in the country and the whole of central Africa.

The funding for the project was awarded by the Embassy of Japan in Uganda, which selected the project from more than 150 submitted proposals from across the country in December 2012.

The Embassy of Japan provided $122,175 (£74,894/€90,319) to get the project up and running and there are further plans to add international standard spectator seating, a press room, a hostel and team clubhouses.

Japanese Ambassadors to Uganda, Junzo Fujita and predecessor Kazuo Minagawa, the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA), the National Council of Sports - Uganda (NCS), the Gayaza Parish Catholic Church - which donated approximately 1.21 hectares (three acres) of land for the project -  and UBSA all collaborated on and contributed to the delivery of Uganda's first full-size national baseball and softball facility.

"We are absolutely honoured that the Embassy of Japan in Uganda would consider the sports of baseball and softball for strengthening international ties, building friendships and improving society," said World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) co-Presidents Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter.

"We are extremely delighted for the athletes, our member federation UBSA and our continental body, the African Baseball and Softball Association.

"This is a historic and truly special moment for the community of Gayaza, the nation of Uganda, Africa and the entire baseball and softball world.

"The potential for Uganda to grow nationally, to encourage and motivate their neighbours to grow, to host internationally sanctioned competitions and welcome countries from East and Central Africa is a major milestone in the global evolution of baseball and softball."

The National Friendship Stadium is set to host the 2014 Uganda National League in March ©WBSCThe National Friendship Stadium is set to host the 2014 Uganda National League in March ©WBSC

As well as promoting health and physical education in Uganda, the new facility will help to build on the promising number of youngsters taking up baseball and softball in the country, according to the WBSC.

The Embassy of Japan says more than 20,000 young players take part in baseball and softball regularly in Uganda on other sports pitches or open fields.

The National Friendship Stadium will host its first official competitions when the 2014 Uganda National League opens in March.

Last year, Britain's first dedicated baseball and softball facility was opened at Farnham Park, Slough in July while a similar facility was opened at the Mahindra Rajapaksa International Sports Complex, Diyagama, Sri Lanka in March.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related Stories
July 2013: 
Play Ball 2020 comes to the UK for opening of first dedicated baseball-softball facility