Benin is considered one of the friendliest countries in Africa, with a passion for Baseball - Africa Baseball!
The Beninese Baseball and Softball Federation was established in February, 2019
The game of baseball is exploding in this small west African nation
The LTAD recognizes the need to involve all Africans in the developmental pathway, not just the elite athletes, and is made up of a seven-stage framework. Each stage is categorized by a chronological age group, however, an athlete’s skill level may not align with his or her chronological age. Therefore, the skill sets of the individual athlete need to be assessed to determine his or her pathway needs. An athlete can enter into the pathway at any point through his or her progression. In doing so, it may be beneficial to pull recommendations from previous stages of development. Athletes will continue to progress and develop within each individual stage, but the objectives are the underlying drivers of the stages. This framework also allows for athletes to begin an “Advanced Track” within the Develop Stage for 14- to 16-year-olds.
Advanced athletes are those who show a high level of aptitude in the sport at their given age. The “Advanced Track” is a pathway of development that allows for elite athletes to dedicate more direct time and energy to training and competition for their high-level progress in the game.
USA Baseball, with support from Major League Baseball (MLB), has generated a Long Term Athlete Development Plan (LTAD) to provide a multi-stage developmental pathway for an individual’s life-long experience within the sport of baseball.
In 2010 Gary Tonsager visited Benin on a Onesight mission giving eye exams and glasses to people in need. He fell in love with the small West African country and its people and decided to share his other passion - baseball.
Gary and Robbinsdale, Minnesota baseball coach Wally Langfellow joined forces and their Baseball in Benin organization strives to promote baseball in Benin. Baseball in Benin is based out of Minnesota and is currently focused on training coaches, setting up leagues, shipping baseball equipment and securing fields to play on. With the help of the organization in Minnesota and people on the ground in Benin, the game of baseball is expanding in the small west African nation.
These efforts are aided by passionate people on the ground in Benin
Alban Guidi was Gary’s interpreter when he arrived in this French-speaking country and having lived in the USA as a child, he bemoaned the lack of baseball in his country. They bonded over their shared love of baseball and an idea was born.
Coach Fernando Atannon was also an interpreter for Gary during his One Sight mission. Fernando was originally exposed to Baseball through Youtube videos. In the summer of 2013 Fernando got the opportunity to travel to Minnesota to train to become a certified Baseball coach. Fernando returned to Benin and is currently coaching over 200 kids. Fernando was a coach for team Benin when they visited Minnesota in 2016.
Coach Arnaud Adodo was another on of Gary's interpreters in Benin. He is currently a school teacher in Cocotomey, Benin. In 2014 he was trained and certified as a coach by Fernando. Arnaud also coached team Benin when the visited Minnesota in 2016.
Project Consultant Constant Somadjagbi met Gary at the One Sight clinic in 2010. He was the facilitator in charge of organizing the One Sight clinic. He is the project consultant for Baseball in Benin. Constant has dual citizenship with residences in both North Carolina and Cotonou, Benin.
African-born Kieran Lovegrove, a member of the San Francisco Giants, who represented Africa in the MLB All Star Futures Game in 2018, heard about the efforts to grow the game in West Africa and he solicited the help of other MLB Players. In addition to a well-supported plan to visit this region in the off-season, Kieran also used his Going to Bat Foundation to focus on securing support for Benin.