Following the success of Little League Baseball in the UK over the past few years, the hope is that the 2017 tournament will have an increased number of teams in each age category, making it the largest-ever UK Little League event.
With the exception of the U11/Coach Pitch and U11/Minors tournaments, the winner at each age group will earn the right to represent the UK at European Little League Qualifiers this summer, where the winning team will go on to represent Europe and Africa at Little League Championships in the United States.
Little League International revised their divisions in 2016, and are no longer offering a Big League (Under-19) category. So the 2017 Edition of the UKLLQ will have the following age groups:
BSUK and the BBF are encouraging as many clubs as possible to enter the UK Little League Qualifiers, especially in the U11 age group, which is why two tournaments will be hosted at this age level. They are:
In an effort to encourage development and more competitive game play, the U11/Coach Pitch and U11/Minors tournaments will be considered open tournaments. Any club with players who are aged 10 or under on 1 September 2017 can enter a team regardless of experience or games played.
And if a club is unable to field a full team, BSUK and the BBF will help recruit players from other clubs to ensure as many kids get to play baseball at the Qualifiers as possible.
The winner of each UK Little League Qualifier (except the U11 competitions) will earn the right to represent the UK at the Europe and Africa Little League Qualifiers to be held across Europe over the summer.
The winners of these events will progress to represent Europe and Africa at the various Little League World Series events in the USA.
Full details of the European Qualifiers can be found online at http://www.eteamz.com/llbeurope/.
In 2013 the UK Little League Qualifier was contested between just two teams.
In 2014 there were 12 teams, in 2015 the tournament expanded 14, and in 2016 17 teams participated with the addition of the U11/Coach Pitch division.
For 2017, BSUK and the BBF are hoping to build on the success of 2016 and the BBF Youth League, and are expecting that this will be the biggest Little League tournament in UK history.
The following teams have already confirmed their participation in the 2017 UK Little League Qualifier:
The event will not just be the largest Little League Qualifiers to date, but will hopefully be one of the youth baseball highlights in 2017.
One parent said, “When I asked my son whether he thought that this event reminded him of the Little League Tournaments in Europe, he said, ‘No mum, it’s like the baseball tournaments in the USA’.”
“Youth development is at the core of what we do and is at the heart of what BaseballSoftballUK is about” said former BSUK National Development Manager Will Lintern. “I still remember fondly the trips I used to take to RAF Alconbury with the Tonbridge Bobcats to play in what was then the UK Little League Qualifying Tournament. I hope the young players who will compete this year will look back on their time at Farnham Park as I do on my time in Tonbridge and RAF Alconbury playing ‘British’ Little League baseball.”
Entry to this year’s UK Little League Qualifiers will cost £110 per team.
Teams interested in playing should contact BSUK’s Fastpitch Development Manager and UK Little League Assistant District Administrator Johanna Malisani on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, teams can complete the tournament registration form available online here: http://baseballsoftballuk.com/ukll17.
Final details of the event, including schedule and tournament brackets, will be announced shortly.