by Pim van Nes
Netherlands national baseball team was invited by Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague to join the social and trade mission to Cuba from 10 thru 13 January 2016. Since decades baseball selections first from Havana and later representing Cuba were frequent and popular participants in the international tournaments hosted by Rotterdam and Haarlem.
In 2009 Netherlands Ambassador in Washington was requested by ESPN to take questions in a live television program, when their journalists got surprised by good results of Dutch baseball in World Baseball Classic: in particular two wins over Dominican Republic loaded with Major League players. In order to be prepared best, ambassador Renee Jones-Bos asked speaking notes from her close collaborators in the Embassy and one of them phoned Mister Baseball correspondent in the Netherlands for assistance. Next morning ESPN brought this bright show on TV screens across the USA:
Manager and later technical director baseball Robert Eenhoorn appreciated this diplomatic performance and developed a relation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where Mrs Jones-Bos in 2011 became Secretary-General, the highest ranking civil servant. In 2012 Norbert Braakhuis from Haarlem was appointed Netherlands Ambassador in Havana, Cuba. As a baseball fan himself, Mr Braakhuis attended Cuban games both in Havana and in the Netherlands, where he spoke with many counterparts in baseball and business. All together these activities have produced the recent Dutch mission combining business and baseball to Cuba.
Due to heavy rain fall in Cuba, the diplomacy inspired baseball game between the two national teams had to be cancelled twice, but yesterday Netherlands federation KNBSB on their official website released following positive report about the mission:
SUCCESSFUL TRADE MISSION BY KNBSB TO CUBA
The Kingdom Team trip to Cuba certainly did not remain unnoticed. Announcements were made by national radio and television and in the streets pedestrians could read posters about the team. However, three days full of rain prevented the game from starting, although 15.000 fans were already waiting in the stadium, when it was decided to postpone the game. Stadium officials estimated – considering time and attendance – that the definite crowd would have grown to 40.000 at play-ball!
Nevertheless, the mission by our team became a big success even without a game. After the two Ministers and former soccer player Pierre van Hooijdonk (who spoke on behalf of Rotterdam based soccer club Feyenoord), it was up to KNBSB commercial director Paddy Roomer to address an inspiring speech to the members and guests of the Dutch trade delegation. Roomer spoke about the “We World of Baseball” and to everybody he gave a Kingdom Team baseball shirt. This gift was highly appreciated by each representative of the export companies and of the government bodies participating in the mission. Roomer reminded them of the strong image abroad by Dutch baseball: in Cuba and in many more countries across the world. Partnership with baseball will certainly improve their companies international positioning.
KNBSB during this 77 companies and 4 days trade mission gained many new business relations and Roomer‘s agenda was loaded with appointments planned for after return in the Netherlands. Baseball and business then will explore possibilities of structural partnerships. KNBSB wishing to thank all participating players and coaches of the Netherlands Kingdom Team for their efforts.