Over the summer, several ASL middle school students were selected by the British Baseball Federation for Team Great Britain to compete in the European Championship qualifiers. Sixth-grader Sebastian Bozzo, seventh-grader Leo De Giorgi, and eighth-grader Matthew Furst, all current members of the London Sports Baseball program, were given the opportunity to prove themselves during a two round tryout process, eventually resulting in their selection for the squad. Bozzo and De Giorgi were both selected for the under 12 teams whilst Furst was selected for the under 15s.
The qualifiers take place every two years and they determine which teams go through to the European Championships. All three of the boys went through two sets of tryouts. The boys all got through the first round and then went to the second tryouts where they were judged to see if they were capable of making the team. Only 18 people were selected for the Under 12 and Under 15 teams. The majority of the players were from London Sports Baseball which De Giorgi said was good as they knew how to play with each other.
It was the Great Britain Under 12 team’s first appearance in the European Championship qualifiers in a decade and they came 11th place out of 14 teams when they competed in the qualifiers this summer. Although the Under 12’s lost to Czech Republic on their first game, they made a comeback in their third game when they beat Poland 5-4. De Giorgi said that he felt that the qualifiers was an amazing experience and he has “made some very good friends.”
There were five teams that competed in the Under 15 championship: Russia, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belgium and Great Britain. Russia won the qualifiers and Furst described them as amazing and so good at baseball.
Furst, who was on the under 15 team, was one of the youngest players on his team. He was 12 while most of his teammates were fourteen at the time. Regardless, he still got to be the starting pitcher in one of the games which he said was the highlight of the trip. It was “just a really good bonding experience and a cool way to see a high level of baseball being played,” said Furst. In addition, Matthew felt that it was just amazing to represent his country.
The head coach for both teams was Liam Carroll, who has played for, coached and managed the British National Team as well as playing and now coaching for the British junior team and for Porterville College. De Gorgi felt positive about Carroll and said that he was a very inspirational person and a great coach. In addition, he also coached for Britain in the 2014 European Championship and then managed them in both the 2016 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers and the 2016 European Championships. Bozzo described Coach Carroll as a really nice person who “was just a really good coach.”
All three of the boys want to continue with baseball in the future. Furst thinks that playing in the European Championship qualifiers was a great experience that would further his baseball career and that “it was a step in the direction of getting into high levels of baseball.” He hopes to end up playing for a division 1 baseball team in college. Bozzo said he definitely sees himself going back to Budapest for the next set of qualifiers in the future.