Chingiz Bura, president of the Almaty Little League, gave an exclusive interview to The Astana Times. An Almaty native and entrepreneur, Bura is aiming to revitalise the baseball scene in Kazakhstan starting with the youngest athletes.
Tell us about the Almaty Little League.
Well, the history of the league in Almaty is really exciting. American companies and employees of the American Embassy who were trying to develop baseball in Kazakhstan among children and promote healthy lifestyle founded it in 1995.
I personally started to play baseball at the inception of the league. I was nine years old at the time and it became the best experience in my life and still is. Back then, baseball was an unfamiliar game for us but it was very fascinating and a friendly sport activity.
The best side of baseball is simply teambuilding. You realise that the whole team depends on the efforts of each player. The results reflect on every single player on the team. In my opinion, this game is good for people who strive to accomplish one goal. We went to the championships of Europe, Asia, Africa and Kutno, Poland and became bronze champions in Little League Baseball three times. I highly appreciate my coaches for the chance they gave us to become good people, inspired us to love the sport and to always be honest.
How developed is baseball in Kazakhstan?
When the league was established in 1995, baseball was a very popular game and its development was growing fast. However, for the past three years the popularity of the game is in decline. We are trying to take this game to a new level and achieve great heights.
You were recently elected as president of the league. What are your plans for the organisation?
My one and only mission is making baseball one of the most popular games in Kazakhstan. If we can make everything based on charity and sponsorship, I want to give a chance to every single kid in our society to grow up a strong, honest and healthy person.
This year we will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of baseball in Kazakhstan and my goal is the revival of this game. I hope many people will join us and give support for the development of this sport in our country. My plan is to reconstitute this game in Almaty city like it was before, when we had a couple of stadiums and strong support. Unfortunately, today we only have one field, the Lavington Stadium at School No. 95.
Next year we plan to open up a baseball league in Astana, followed by other big cities such as Shymkent, Karagandy and many others to make this game popular and represent our country in the European Championship in Kutno, Poland where we are already registered. We believe our team can play in the World Series in Pennsylvania.
How many teams already participate in the league?
This year we are planning to build up 10 teams of 9-12 year olds. We are going to start a new generation of baseball players. So our goal is to train good, healthy and strong young people.