THE city government of Bago launched the Protect Our Nation Youth (PONY) Baseball and Softball Visayas Region at the Manuel Y. Torres Memorial Coliseum and Cultural Center in the city Monday, June 5.

The launching was attended by Mayor Nicholas Yulo; Rey Fuentes, PONY Visayas Regional Director; Rodolfo Tingzon Jr., president, Philippine Tot Baseball/ PONY Philippines; Tamami Kodemura, Japan PONY Baseball Association Board of Director; Takeharu Nasu, PONY International Asia Pacific Head; and Dr. Neri Ann Alibuyog, Schools Division Superintendent, Department of Education of Bago City.

Tingzon said that PONY Baseball and Softball Philippines were very inspired with the interest shown by the people of Bago City for the sport.

“We in turn relayed all our findings to our international headquarters in the United States of America (USA) and they were so impressed by our report that we all decided that it was the right time to open a Visayan Region Chapter,” he said.

He added the idea of this project is that PONY International in cooperation with personalities from the Visayas Region will further promote this sport of baseball and softball to the youth ages 4-18 years old and give them the necessary tools to excel in both sports.

Fuentes, a native of Bago City and now based in California, said he talked with the president of PONY and planned the launching of PONY in the city.

He said Bago City is a member of Little League Philippines, and last year, the city’s team joined the World Series in Washington, where they finished in third place.

“It’s the first time that Bago City won in the World Series and this time, Bago City will represent the two divisions in the 12-under age category of PONY and 16-under in PONY in MacAllen Texas this July 2023,” he added.

Aside from the two divisions, Fuentes said 13-14 under age category for the Little League that will play on August 5, 2023.

Fuentes noted that they invited Nasu to visit Bago City for the launching of PONY Base and Softball Visayas Region.

“We are very proud of the administration of Mayor Yulo for supporting the softball teams of Bago City who will compete in the World Series,” Fuentes said.

He said it's the first time in the Visayas that Bago City will compete in the World Series in PONY.

Nasu said PONY stands for Protect Our Nation Youth and under this concept they are supporting children who are involved in sport activities.

He said globally, excluding Africa, they have PONY organizations in every country and about 600,000 players are registered.

“As a baseball organization, we are the largest in the world,” he added.

In Asia alone, Nasu said there are 27 countries, 5,000 teams with about 100,000 players registered in PONY and it’s now increasing.

Yulo also expressed his gratitude to the PONY officials for supporting the softball program in the city.

Yulo said he is also thankful to Nasu and Kodemura for visiting Bago City.

“This is a very welcome development for us here, especially for our young girls/boys to be able to have an opportunity to play in the World Series,” he said.*