Federation Focus: Burkina Faso aiming for new stadium and Africa's first-ever pro baseball league

Federation Focus: Burkina Faso aiming for new stadium and Africa's first-ever pro baseball league
The French-speaking West African nation started playing baseball in 1993 and became the West African champion in 2019. The goal for the next four years is building a venue dedicated to baseball and softball, and establish the continent's first professional baseball league.

The president of the of Burkina Faso Baseball Softball Federation (FBBS, Fédération Burkinabè de Baseball et Softball) Ibrahima Sibore is a 31-year old bank executive who has a straight answer for the question 'Why baseball?': "It's about passion," he says.

Sibore joined the Goupana baseball club as a player in 2007 and joined the FBBS Executive Board as Deputy Secretary-General in 2008. He served two terms under President Ibrahim N'Daye. He was elected second Vice President under President Hubert Serge Tiao in 2016.

Sibore was elected the FBBS President in the summer of 2020. When baseball and softball resumed their activity in the country on 25 October, Sibore spoke of his vision for the sports' "renaissance".

"Considering the opportunities and chances it had, the former term was not satisfactory," Sibore told WBSC via e-mail.

"We intend to restore motivation amongst the people involved in baseball and softball in our country," Sibore told constituents as he began his term as the nation's baseball-softball leader. "Let me quote Antoine de Saint Exupéry, who said that stones by themselves could only be stones, but if they come together can become a temple."

He added: "I mean that we can't do anything alone. We need everybody to come together to make this term successful. Sport promotes peace and cohesion. We are open to the contribution from all those who wish to develop baseball and softball in Burkina Faso."

Baseball was introduced in Burkina Faso, a French-speaking country in West Africa, in 1993. The first club was named Burkina Batt. There are now over 20 active clubs.

"We work hard in Burkina Faso to improve our baseball and softball skills despite a lack of financial support that causes a lack of equipment," Sibore says. "The game is established as curricular activity in schools."

The intention to organize baseball and softball competitions for high schools and colleges attracted the interest of Abraham Zona, the Director-General of High-Level performance with the nation's Ministry of Sports. He also guaranteed support for the National Baseball Team.

The Burkina Faso National Baseball Team won the West African Cup, a qualifier to the African Baseball Championship, under the guidance of Japanese manager Yuta Deai. They outscored both Nigeria and the host Ghana in a tournament played in Accra in March 2019.

The success of the National Team makes President Sibore proud.

"We enjoyed the success in Accra, then finished fourth in the Africa Cup in South Africa, losing the third-place game against Zimbabwe in 11 innings."

Burkina Faso allowed a lot of runs during the pre-Olympic Qualifier in South Africa.

"We are aware we need to improve, to become competitive at the international level. That's why we have the goal of establishing a professional league within the next four years. We are also working to fund the construction of a venue dedicated to our sport. We will definitely be looking for some guidance and support from WBSC to reach our goal."

FBBS is also keen to introduce Baseball5 in schools.

"We do appreciate this new discipline. We are looking forward to organizing educational courses for coaches in our country with the presence of WBSC instructors."

President Sibore sees education as the key to future development and is looking forward to using the WBSC Academy, both personally, and for members of the Burkina Faso Baseball Softball Federation.

"I myself would be happy to attend a course to improve my knowledge. Hopefully, WBSC can help us in that area. We are willing to improve our board on managing skills and communication skills."