Laos opens first baseball stadium, launches new National League

Laos opens first baseball stadium, launches new National League
The new Laos Baseball league is being held between November 16 and January 11 at Sapphavisa Stadium in the Laos capital Vientiane.

With the dust settling on a stunning 2019 edition of the WBSC Premier12, which saw two Asian nations contest the final - world No. 1 Japan beating Korea, ranked third in the world - baseball's popularity across Asia continues to spread with Laos due to open its first ever baseball venue, the Sapphavisa Stadium, in the capital city Vientiane in December.

In a move to enhance awareness of the sport, the Southeast Asian country has also launched its first professional baseball league competition. Called the “1st KOICA Cup Lao Baseball League,” it is supported by South Korea’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

The Laos Baseball Federation also plans to hold an international baseball league to celebrate the opening of the stadium by inviting teams from a total of five Southeast Asian countries.

Baseball was introduced to the country in 2012 by Je Sung-uk, who organized the first workouts at one of the car parks in Vientiane. According to the Laotian Times, 100 players are now involved in the project.

Je Sung-uk received fundamental support by Lee Man-soo, a former gold glove catcher and MVP in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) League. Lee set up a foundation to support baseball in Laos and donated baseball equipment worth US$8,800.

The Laos Baseball Federation, supported by the government, was founded in 2018. Khamphay Sisavanh is the Federation President.

Lee was instrumental in connecting the Laos Baseball Federation to the DGB Financial Group, that supported the construction of the baseball stadium with a grant of US$256,200.

The first Laos Baseball National Team participated in the Asian Games 2018. Kwon Young-jin, a former coach and supervisor at South Korea’s Daegu High School baseball team, is currently the manager.

Lee Man-soo, who is now serving as the Laos Baseball Federation Vice President, and Je Sung-uk, currently serving as a foreign cooperation director representative of the national baseball team of Laos in the federation, recently met with WBSC Secretary General Beng Choo Low in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where the Laos Women's Baseball National Team was playing friendly games.

"I must commend Lee Man Soo and Je Sung Luk for their commitment and dedication to the promotion and development of baseball in Laos, not only finding time, sponsors but also contributing personal funds," Ms Choo Low said.