Bong Chay (Baseball) in Vietnam 2015: FirstSwing Returns for the Sixth Time!
Medina, WA, January 8, 2015:
The FirstSwing Foundation, a federal 501c3 and Washington state non-profit, and its Executive Director Phil Rognier, will be taking a contingent of 40 to Hanoi, Vietnam this Spring from April 4th -11th. This is the sixth year that Coach Phil and the Foundation has spent time developing their “Baseball Connect” program exposing and teaching the game of baseball to Vietnamese and other SE Asian youngsters. FirstSwing will provide interactive Coaching Clinics(“training the trainers”), youth camps(ages 4-18), school presentations(elementary through the university level), public baseball exhibitions, a U.S. Embassy media conference, and a number of other educational activities. This venture will also include the building of a playground for an autistic school and visits to the countryside to help needy families. Coach Phil will teach at the University of Hanoi and speak to local gatherings explaining not just the game of baseball but its value as a viable environment for teaching many of “life’s little lessons”. FirstSwing promotes the notion that sport(s) is a process, not an end in itself, and teaches its importance in developing productive citizens with critical thinking skills, a strong work ethic, nutritional/conditioning knowledge, and the discipline to become a loving spouse and caring parent!
This year, the contingent will visit local public, private, and special education schools, to include the UNIS school in Hanoi. Included will be a “Pitch, Hit, and Run” competition open to all youngsters, a workshop for parents/adults teaching the value of sports and physical conditioning, and provide logistical support to a new English speaking school. The FirstSwing “team” includes 23 local youngsters who will help build the playground, instruct at the camps, visit local schools, and for a few days, stay at sponsored homes. The youth all have various skill sets(Boy Scouts, cooking, athletics, MoonJar, etc) that they will share with local contemporaries. Many of the adults have unique talents that will be utilized to help develop and improve educational opportunities in Hanoi.
FirstSwing will provide fundamental Coaching and Player handbooks(translated into Vietnamese) as well as volumes of equipment to include balls, bats, gloves, caps, uniforms, and other necessary items to perpetuate the teaching and development of the initial baseball program that began in 2009. Microsoft, Fluke(Danaher), Klouter Baseball, and a number of local Vietnamese businesses have contributed generously to assist “Baseball Connect”. The University of Hanoi, and the Hanoi Youth Baseball Club(Coach Tom Treutler) will continue to oversee training of coaches and players. An immediate result of the project will be a 2015 US-VN exchange with a team of youngsters from Hanoi coming to Seattle in August to participate in FirstSwing camps, visit Microsoft and Boeing, play in a tourney, and to see the Mariners and Aqua Sox play!
Bong Chay (Baseball) is no longer just a “comic book sport” in Vietnam, but a newly welcomed healthy and outside team activity. Despite the lack of open fields and without deep financial pockets, the Great American Pastime is taking roots and the Vietnamese youth teams already are competing at the international level. Most importantly, the FirstSwing “Baseball Connect” program is working hard to improve relations with Vietnam and trying to spread “Baseball Diplomacy” to all corners of the world! Baseball is more than a game. GAGPTH!! KWTP!!
“Baseball may not change the world, BUT it may change a youngster’s life!”