Baseball / Israel Gets Nod to Host European U-21 Baseball Championship

Tournament to be held in Petah Tikva a month before senior national team plays in World Baseball Classic Qualifier in Brooklyn.

Nir Keidar

The European Baseball Federation has announced that the Israel will host the 2016 European Championship Under-21 tournament, the Israel Association of Baseball announced this week.

The tournament will be held from August 1 to 6 at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikva. European teams have until January 1 to apply to play for the tournament, which is an open tournament with no qualifiers required.  

Israel will be represented for the most part by the IAB Academy Team, which has played and practiced together for two years, coached by Israel’s national team head coach Nate Fish and longtime national team coach David Schenker. 

This is the first European tournament awarded to Israel since the European Championship in 2011, and is a sign of Israel’s strong standing in European baseball. Last year CEB decided not to award a tournament to Israel due to the security situation after last summer’s Gaza war. This year Israel once again campaigned to have this tournament here next year, and this determination was rewarded. 

“We are all very excited to be hosting this tournament in Israel,” said Peter Kurz, first vice president of the European federation and president of the IAB. “The top teams in Europe will play in Israel, and Israel will have a very strong squad. I hope that all fans of Israeli baseball will attend and the game will continue to grow in this country, as it has over the last three years.” 

Looking further ahead, Kurz said, “We hope that in 2017 we can host more European tournaments in the new facility we will be building in Beit Shemesh.”

With the announcement that Israel will host this tournament, 2016 has quickly turned into a busy year for Israeli baseball. The month after the European Championship takes place in Israel, Team Israel will be playing in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier to be held in Brooklyn, New York from September 22 to 25, and seeking to secure a place in the 2017 WBC tournament.