PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It may seem like the whole world is caught up in soccer and the World Cup right now, but it’s baseball that’s captured the fancy of a couple of boys from Somalia – refugees who are living here in Pittsburgh.
All they had to do was let it be known they wouldn’t mind giving baseball a try.
Ibrahim Mugasa, 9, and his 10-year-old brother, Ramadhani, are refugees now living in Lawrenceville.
When their tutor at a Pitt program for refugees, called “Keep It Real,” found out they were interested in playing ball, he got the North Hills Athletic Association (NHAA) to let them learn by playing in an instructional league this summer.
“I think they’re just happy to be part of the team, and to be playing a sport together, and to have that experience that all kids like to have,” said Louie Al-Hashami, the boys’ tutor.
“At their first practice, they were pretty timid; but now, when I dropped them off for their last game, they were running right with their teammates, really enthusiastic,” added tutor John Dodderidge.
The league says it’s been a great experiment. The boys took to their teammates and their teammates took to them. They also caught onto the game quickly.
They’ve certainly got rule number one down: “Keep your eye on the ball.”
“It gives me the chills because I was pretty excited to take on the task of making sure they develop the right way,” said John Leuch, the boys’ coach. “And when we first saw them, they couldn’t really catch or throw or didn’t have the proper mechanics, and after the second or third practice, it was like they’d been playing baseball for four years.”
“This is the first time we’ve ever gotten a chance to do something like this and it just made the whole community feel good,” Dean Bonenberger, the president of the NHAA, said.
The NHAA says it now hopes to introduce more kids from the “Keep It Real” refugee tutoring program at Pitt to the joys of baseball.