Los Angeles Dodgers player Adrian Gonzalez has spoken out on why he thinks baseball could be popular among kids in UAE.
The first baseman was in Dubai last week along with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for the sponsorship announcement of the Dubai Little League Divisional Teams in partnership with Emirates Airlines.
The Major League Baseball duo also inaugurated the Emirates Airline Dubai Little League Park which will become the home of the Dubai Little League.
In conversation with Sport360, Gonzalez also spoke about the Chicago Cubs’ remarkable success in the World Series.
Q. Baseball is obviously very popular in the States, Central America and Japan but what does it take to reach out to other regions like the Middle East for example?
I think it starts with something like this, a partnership with a great airline, a great company and the people that can reach the city and start a little league and have the Dubai Dodgers to create an atmosphere to get the kids involved and the families involved.
It starts with this and then from there, everyday it grows and eventually, you never, in 10-15 years it (Middle-East) could be a powerhouse in baseball. It can only grow from here.
Q. Why would baseball be such a great sport for kids in UAE? What’s the appeal?
With any sport you get to build a team mentality, having to work and play as a team. There are rules, preparations and a work ethic. On top of that, I think baseball is unique in the sense that your your size doesn’t matter.
You can be the smallest guy in the team and the best player in the team or the biggest guy in the team and still be the best player. You can be the heaviest or the lightest guy and be the best player. In other sports, if you’re taller you have an advantage or if you’re faster you have an advantage. But in baseball those aren’t necessarily advantages.
There’s a lot of skill, mentality and strategy involved that puts everything every other sport has to offer into one. I’m a big fan of soccer where if you’re the fastest guy you have an advantage. If you’re a tall guy, you have an advantage when it comes to the centres and the headers. But in baseball those things can help you but they don’t exactly give you an advantage. That’s what makes baseball so unique.
Q. The Chicago Cubs are among our shortlist for the best International team of 2016. What do you make of the magnitude of their achievement this year?
For any team who wins the World Series, it’s an incredible achievement. To finish on top in the highest league for baseball in the world, that’s a remarkable achievement. And for them to be able to win it for the first time in 108 years, obviously speaks volumes.
It’s just one of those historic seasons and moments for Major League Baseball and the Cubs have been a sensation. Unfortunately, they beat us on the way to the World Series but for the game of baseball, and the for the city of Chicago, it was great for them.
Q. Having lost to them in the play-offs and then watch them go all the way, does that make you all the more hungry to do it yourselves?
I think it does. For us, in the play-offs we’ve been great and right there for the past four years so every year that hunger builds and that want to get to the next level and be able to win the World Series grows. It doesn’t just come from this year, losing to the Cubs but also from the previous years.
Q. What’s the next step now in the immediate future for yourself and for the Dodgers?
Moving forward, the off season right now is to prepare. I think every player owes it to the team and to the fans to work as hard as you possibly can to get ready for next year.
Then when we get together for Spring training it’s about working as a team and preparing for the new season. And once the season begins we’re going to do everything we can not just to get to the play-offs but to move on to the next level.
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