Youthful Black Sox to go to Prague

By Eru Paranihi

Players at the men's national softball club championships are vying for a spot in the Black Sox squad for their tour to the Czech Republic later this year.

As Black Sox captain Nathan Nukunuku explained to Te Kāea, the tour is a chance to develop players.

“We're only two years in between world championships these days, so every opportunity we have to blood new players, we'll take,” says Nukunuku (Ngāti Porou).

The Black Sox will head to the Czech Republic this year without Coach Mark Sorenson who is handing the reins to his right-hand man.

Says Sorenson, “My assistant coach is going to take the reins as head coach, and there will be an assistant placed in to support him.  I won't be going on that tour, to allow for Darryl's development in the head coaching role.”

“I expect the side to be relatively fresh with a few new players getting given a shot,” says Nukunuku.  

Last month, The Czech Republic were in Auckland to play in a tournament which involved two trial teams from New Zealand – Team Rice, and Team Jackson.  The Black Sox got to see the European-based side for the first time.

“Czech Republic- it's a growing sport over there.  They've got some good leagues, and they take some Kiwis over there already.  There's about four or five of them in the Auckland competition,” says Nukunuku.  

With softball participation on the rise in the Czech Republic, it's no wonder Prague was awarded hosting rights by the International Softball Federation.  Nukunuku has never played over there, “From what I've heard- I've never been to Prague- but I heard it's a good place.  I heard the beers are a little cheap.  I might be gutted if I don't go away on that tour, but there's always next year with the world championships over there.”

The team will be named after the tournament, with the first camp expected to take place in April.