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Ford continues inner city baseball camp

Sports Scope
  • Mario Ford.

FRED STURRUP
Guardian Columnist/Sales Executive

Published: May 04, 2012

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Mario Ford is a sports figure who came from the belly of the inner city. From the humble Windsor Lane area he came. With the famed Windsor Park as a development base, he watched his older brothers and their friends develop their sporting skills and he learned. He became quite good in baseball, softball and cricket.

There have been many instances whereby the inner city environment proved problematic for young boys and girls, but Ford is one who survived handsomely. The 12-year-old bat boy who accompanied Team Bahamas to the National Baseball Congress in Wichita, Kansas, 40-plus years ago, has evolved over the years into a well-grounded mentor of young boys and girls.

He remained in his inner city base at the Ford Windsor Lane homestead. This coming Saturday, May 5, the 27th Annual Mario Ford Baseball Camp will begin at Windsor Park. The start of this year’s version of the baseball forum in which youngsters learn the basics of the game ,was delayed by a week due to rain. According to Ford, he expects a registration list totaling some 80 individuals, youngsters aged four to 15. The camp will be held every Saturday for two hours beginning at 9 a.m. and continue through to June 23.

“This is another year and I’m happy to be able to give something back on a continual basis. We wanted to start last Saturday, but the rain put a damper on the event. I feel the enthusiasm is there as always because the parents continue to show an interest in having their boys and girls come to the camp. We just have a good time on the park and it is a privilege for me to be able to keep the camp going,” said Ford.

The contribution is remarkable. Many attendees over the years have grown into adults, becoming quality citizens largely due to the wholesome concept of the camp. It’s not just about learning to hit and catch the ball, or being taught the technique of sliding into bases. Ford’s camp operates by a basic code. He insists that the youngsters understand team work. He drills into them the necessity to “put efforts together” for the common goal of success. For Ford, success does not only come with victories. His message to the young boys and girls is that “doing the best you are capable of” is success.

Ford has often pointed out that his dedication to helping the youth of the inner city develop positively was driven by the fact that he has gotten “so much from sports”. The truth be told, if sporting activities were not options for Ford, his life could have turned out differently and not necessarily for the better. He understands that. Ford has called Windsor Park the “safe haven” for him and others.

“Man this is where we came from. We just about lived on the park. If not for the park, many of us would have gotten into other things, not good.”

The National Baseball Congress era for Bahamian players is far in the past. The young lad who captivated the Wichita Stadium spectators with how seriously he took his bat boy duties back in 1968, has become entrenched in the Bahamian sports system. In his early 50s now, Mario Ford is to be congratulated for the longevity of the camp. It’s one of the signature forums for the youth of the inner city.

Indeed, Ford continues to play his role in nation-building through sports.

 

•To respond to this column, kindly contact Fred Sturrup at sturrup1504@gmail.com.

 

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