Herts Baseball Club receives £10k grant to help with expansion project

Herts Falcons in action against the London Mets last season. Picture (c)  Richard Lee, www.richardleephotography.org
Herts Falcons in action against the London Mets last season. Picture (c) Richard Lee, www.richardleephotography.org

Herts Baseball Club has been awarded a £10,000 grant from Sport England to launch the club’s branch in North West London and give the local community an opportunity to play baseball.

Herts Baseball Club has been based at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead since it was founded in 1996.

It has grown into one of the biggest baseball clubs in the UK, with eight teams playing in the various adult and youth leagues of the British Baseball Federation.

In 2013 the club recognised that in order to accommodate the growing number of new players who want to play baseball, the club needed to expand.

“30 per cent of our members are based in North West London and our data also showed that we receive many enquiries from potential new members from that part of London,” said cub president Aspi Dimitrov.

“However, many of them have not been able to start playing because the public transport connections from North West London to our ballpark in Hemel Hempstead are very poor.

“Currently there is no other club located in the North West quadrant of London which offers adult and youth baseball so the natural progression for the club was to expand by establishing a branch in this densely-populated area.”

This project would not be possible without the £10,000 grant awarded by Sport England as part of its National Lottery-funded Small Grants programme.

The funds will be invested in launching the new branch – with various open events for the local community to try baseball and start to play regularly in the youth and adult leagues at regional, national and even international level.

The grant will also fund taster sessions and other activities in local schools to promote the new baseball programme among students.

With support from the London Borough of Barnet, the club’s new diamond in North West London will be located at West Hendon Playing Fields.

Dr Matthew Offord, MP for Hendon, welcomed the news and said: “Sport England has made a tremendous bequest to our area by making this award.

“Baseball is not a traditional game of the UK but there is not only a great appetite for different type of sports but it also presents an opportunity for people of different backgrounds to come together and be united in the games.

“I look forward to visiting the diamond and perhaps swinging a bat myself.”

The venue has good bus, train and London Underground connections. It is also in the M1 corridor – just a 25-minute drive from the club’s other ballpark in Hemel Hempstead – which opens up the opportunity for interaction between the two branches.

Events will begin this month, with open sessions for youth and adult players at the fantastic sports facilities of Middlesex University.

The adult and youth baseball leagues will then commence in April and May when we will see the first baseball games played at the club’s new ballpark in West Hendon.

“We are very excited to be bringing baseball to North West London and we hope to repeat the success of our existing programme in Hemel Hempstead,” added Dimitrov.

“This would mean that boys and girls, men and women of all ages, from beginners to elite players, will be able to play this fantastic sport, stay fit and healthy and become part of the Herts Baseball family and the wider British Baseball community.”

With the prospect of Major League Baseball coming to London in 2016 to create a similar extravaganza as the NFL international series at Wembley Stadium, Herts Baseball Club hopes that this project will help increase the size of the club by 50 per cent in time for the arrival of MLB in London.

For more information about the project, the club, or playing baseball with Herts, please visit www.hertsbaseball.com