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Fredericton baseball players visit Cuba for goodwill tournament

Fredericton baseball players visit Cuba for goodwill tournament

Posted by Juan Gavasa on February 24, 2015

Young baseball players in Fredericton got to experience how the sport is played in Cuba after a goodwill tournament in that nation.

The 17 players and their coaches travelled to Cuba, played a few games and took baseball gear and school supplies to children in the Mantanzas area.

The initiative started in Nova Scotia and Paul Hornibrook brought it to Fredericton to his players who are between the ages of 12 and 14.

Hornibrook is the former president of Fredericton Minor Baseball and the current director of player development. He says it was a real eyeopener for the players from both teams.

"They're feeling cared for because there was people in Canada who wanted to do something for their community and, you know, they live in concrete shacks, so to speak," he said.

"The place is dirty, but they have a wonderful spirit, they really do. They don't complain. They just say this is our lot in life."

Spirit of generosity

Hornibrook says some of the Cuban players were invited to the resort with the Canadians in Varadero. He says it was an amazing experience for some of the boys who had never travelled more than 30 kilometres from home.

One of the main things Hornibrook noticed was the spirit of generosity the Cuban people had.

"One mother was there cutting up pineapple and giving it away and she asked for nothing in return," he said. "By the end of the day some of the parents had gone over and left a few pesos with her. They just knew it was the right thing to do."

An under-16 team will come to Canada next summer and are scheduled to play a game in Fredericton on July 5.

Hornibrook got the idea for a goodwill tour after going last year with two teams from Nova Scotia. He says he wanted boys in Fredericton to experience it.

Hornibrook says it's about paying it forward, learning sportsmanship and life skills.

The program was started by a Nova Scotian travel company owner who watched children playing with sticks, bare feet and milk cartons. That's when the Canada-Cuba goodwill tour was born.

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