The National Baseball League (NBL) is the marquee league in the British Baseball Federation (BBF). In 2018, it will be a six-team division, with the announcement the Birmingham Bandits, have been accepted to be a part of the NBL for the upcoming season. There was a lot to consider in the expansion of the NBL from a logistical to a development standpoint, for the BBF.
The inclusion of Birmingham into the NBL highlights the route of the expansion of our sport in the UK's second largest city population of over 3.6 million. The metropolis is one of the youngest cities in Europe with almost 40% of its population being under 15 years of age. Transportation to and from Birmingham highlights the ease to travel to from by train or car for games. It is the home to five universities and over 73,000 students. The perfect young persons mix to attract the next generation of baseball players in our sport.
James Moran, coach for the Bandits said ' I'm really pleased that we are going to be stepping up to facing the best teams in the country. We will play tough but in the right spirit and I am confident we will be competitive from the off. We go into the season with the majority of last years roster, but we will also be significantly strengthening between now and the start of the season. Anyone who wants a challenge, and has the desire to be successful in the NBL should give me a call.'
When considering the benefits of expansion in Birmingham, the BBF board tallied the positives and collectively agreed to vote the Bandits in the NBL. Further, there was careful consideration given to the benefit of expanding the NBL by a club which has attracted a high calibre of players living in the Midlands to further clubs plan to attract more calibre players from afar to compete at the highest level of baseball in the UK.
Duncan Hoyle, president of the Bandits, said ' Its a fantastic day for the club to be accepted into the NBL. It has been a real club effort over the last few seasons to get us to a point where we could make an application to join the NBL, and now we are part of it we will do everything we can to make the expansion a success. The real hard work for us starts immediately - we have a lot of catching up to do with the established NBL teams but its a challenge we are really up for and looking forward to. I would ask everyone to get behind the club in this venture - its been a long time since a club from outside of the south have been part of the NBL, and if we are to be successful at the highest level then it can only be a positive development for British Baseball. I think we have brilliant leadership for the Bandits with James Moran and Dennis Grogan being two of the most respected coaches in the Midlands who are both hungry to step up and succeed in the NBL.'
With any expansion comes risk, but the management of the Birmingham Bandits assured the BBF of its plan to work on meeting targets. The complete list of teams for the 2018 NBL season are as follows:
A spokesperson for the BBF said, "we congratulate the Birmingham Bandits on being a part National Baseball League. The Birmingham Bandits now have the benefit to build a fan base and participation in our sport within a great city. GO BANDITS!'
Team name: Birmingham Bandits
Team colours: Purple and black.
Club president: Duncan Hoyle
Coaches: James Moran and Dennis Grogan
Logo (view video below):
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