JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Desi Relaford, a Jacksonville-raised former Major League Baseball player, is helping create baseball academies in Africa.
In May, they started clearing acres of land for a Nigerian university’s first-ever college baseball program.
Relaford said there isn’t much of a baseball culture in Africa, so they’re building one from the ground up.
“I see that there’s a huge need form I’m not saying there’s a huge need for baseball, but just a huge need for an opportunity, and baseball will provide that opportunity for them, you know, for the kids who take advantage of it,” Relaford said. “We’re just trying to provide a way, a new dream, so to speak.”
Their first camp had over 130 children. For many of them, it was their first time learning about the game.
“The energy is so infectious,” Relaford said. “They’re just so eager to learn.”
Relaford said children in Duval County should realize the opportunities in front of them because these children don’t have the same chances.
“Just being able to find something that you’re passionate about, or just try things that you’ve never tried,” Relaford said.
But with the help of his organization, he feels they can.
Relaford said they are preparing for a tournament in January. Both his teams in Ghana and Nigeria will be represented.