May 3, 2014 (ISN) – The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has announced the addition of four nations to the line-up for this year’s Under-15 Baseball World Cup with Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and Tunisia heading to Mexico for the tournament this summer.
The addition of the four countries will see the largest geographical spread of nations for a WBSC tournament since the 2009 Men’s Baseball World Cup.
Australia and New Zealand booked their places in Mexico following the Oceania Championship in Auckland earlier this month and this year will be the first time representatives from Oceania will have taken part in the event.
The original field of 16 countries has been further expanded with the addition of Argentina and Tunisia, meaning the World Cup in La Paz will now start a day earlier on July 31 and run until August 10.
Tunisia will be joined by South Africa, representing a first appearance for African sides in the event.
And in another first, New Zealand and Tunisia will be making their debuts at a baseball World Championship of any level.
Venezuela are the defending champions after overcoming Cuba in the inaugural 2012 final in Chihuahua, also in Mexico, and along with Argentina, they will be joined by four other nations from the Americas in the form of Brazil, Panama, the United States and hosts Mexico.
Chinese Taipei, who defeated Brazil in the bronze medal match, will represent Asia along with Hong Kong and Japan while the Czech Republic, Italy, Germany and Lithuania will fly the European flag.
With Australia’s inclusion, 10 of the top 15 nations on the current world baseball rankings will be present in the state of Baja California Sur.
The WBSC has also confirmed that along with original host city La Paz, matches in this year’s Under-15 Baseball World Cup will now also take place in neighbouring cities Los Cabos and Constitucion.
“WBSC, our national federations, our professional league partners and the youth leagues are heavily invested in promoting our sport around the world to attract, develop and empower great young athletes,” said WBSC co-President Riccardo Fraccari.
“And today’s announcements mark a significant breakthrough for our sport, not only for the unprecedented universality and historic firsts, but also for the impressive quality, level of competition and attractiveness of the Under-15 Baseball World Cup itself.
“While the sports world now shifts its focus to the youth/lifestyle demographic, the WBSC is proud to be at the forefront of youth sport with already successfully established and marketable youth engagement platforms like our Under-15 and Under-12 World Championships.
“The WBSC is committed to connecting with more youth, women and cultures to increase access to our sport and grow the brand and reach of our youth properties aggressively.”