The IBL is collaborating with several Jewish organizations in the execution of its projects. The Jewish National Fund, which is responsible for creating recreational areas in Israel, is one such institution, helping the IBL secure parcels of land for conversion to baseball fields. Three such parcels have already been designated - in Tel Aviv, Netanya, and Be'er Sheva. The two relevant official Israeli federations, the Israel Association of Baseball and the Israel Softball Association, are also working closely within Israel with IBL representatives.
According to Larry Baras, the IBL's founder, baseball already exists in Israel and is growing steadily - over 2,000 players participate in league play and there are national teams of all ages and genders that represent Israel in international tournaments. But its growth has been stunted by the lack of three key elements - baseball fields, equipment, and instruction. These three areas are the focus of many of the IBL's initiatives.
One of the projects that the IBL considers to be among its most important is assisting the Israel Softball Association in its quest to field a women's softball team to compete in the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics. "Israeli baseball has progressed in recent years and is beginning to have an impact on the international scene. One team that has reached such a high level of play that it can rightfully compete for a spot in the forthcoming Olympics is the women's softball team. Following the model of the European teams, we are actively recruiting additional Jewish players from the U.S. who are capable of playing at the caliber required to compete on the Olympic level and inviting them to try out for the Israeli Olympic team. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for them. And given the way the Israeli public embraces its Olympic athletes, these kids have the chance to become true heroes in Israel," according to Baras.
Another major project already being promoted is the IBL Baseball Academy, which will inaugurate its program with a summer baseball camp in Israel in July. The camp will be a sleepover camp for non-residents of Israel and a day camp for native Israeli children. "This is going to be a wonderful way to integrate American Jewish youth with their counterparts in Israel, with baseball being the common denominator," Baras said. "The facilities are superb, with basketball courts, a swimming pool, fitness center, computer center, and a host of other amenities, besides, of course, a baseball field," Baras said.
The IBL has established a web site (www.israelbaseballleague.com) that serves as a portal through which information about baseball in Israel is disseminated to the Jewish population worldwide and through which this population can join the effort to promote baseball in Israel.
The Israel Baseball League can be reached at 617-987-0635, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact: Larry Baras