CARACAS, Venezuela — The athletes who represented the nation of Venezuela at the LG Presents WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2016 in Gijang, Korea, were given a hero’s welcome upon their return to their home country Tuesday, including an official reception and public address by the president of Venezuela, Nicolas Madura, on national TV.

The Venezuelan National Team went 6-2 and earned the nation’s historic first-ever bronze medal in the women’s pinnacle hardball competition, as the elite players’ performance in Gijang generated several video highlights, national headlines and viral fan support on social media.

The Venezuelan leader honoured the bronze medallists with the Order of José Félix Ribas and announced his support to form a new women’s professional baseball league.

“This Women’s Professional Baseball League must be born immediately — and must be born at the highest level and with the maximum media support — in order for our young ladies to get enthused…to become stars and become world champions with all the love and identity [of Venezuela],” Madura said.

Madura mandated Venezuela’s Ministry of Youth and Sport to establish the new league, following National Team manager’s Carlos Torres’ request and suggestion that it would help bring home the world championship trophy in future editions of the Women’s Baseball World Cup.  Madura also named Torres the president of the new league.

Highlighting the tremendous support and pride of the nation, WBSC’s Facebook post congratulating Venezuela on the bronze medal has generated a record 16k likes — the most ever for a WBSC post, while the exciting final play of the bronze medal game has generated the most shares (7.8k).