Young Aboriginal baseball players would receive more support through a program to be implemented by the the Sports Administration next year, the agency said on Thursday.
The program aims to improve the quality of training of Aboriginal players in elementary, junior-high and high schools, and include more government funding for their meal plans, after-school tutoring fees and salaries of coaches, it added.
Previously, a similar program was enforced by the Council of Indigenous Peoples, said the agency, which is part of the Ministry of Education (MOE).
Aborigines have played a significant role in the development of baseball in Taiwan and have made great contributions to the national team, Sports Administration Director-General Chang Shao-hsi (張少熙) said.
Almost half of all of Taiwanese professional baseball players come from indigenous communities, Chang added.
Aboriginal players also account for 15 of 28 players in the national team scheduled to compete in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Premier 12 tournament, which is the last chance for teams to fill the remaining two spots in the Tokyo Olympic Games next summer, Chang said.
To qualify for funding under the new program, a school’s baseball team must have been established more than two years before applying, with more than 50 percent of its members being Aborigines, the agency said.
In its first year, the program is to fund 38 primary schools, 21 junior-high schools and 11 high schools, the agency said.
Funding for high-school baseball teams had not been included in the previous program, and the amount for each school would be raised from NT$100,000 to NT$150,000, the agency said.
This would cover meal plans, after-school tuition fees and coaches’ travel expenses, it said, adding that agency officials would regularly inspect the schools that receive funds to ensure the quality of training.
The minimum salary for baseball coaches would be raised from NT$30,000 per month to NT$33,412, the agency said.
The previous program required coaches to have A-level coaching certificate and a master’s degree, and salaries were capped at NT$41,000.
However, the new program would lift the cap and adjust salaries based on the seniority of a coach, the agency said.
Taiwan Aboriginal Baseball Development Association chairman Lin Chih-sheng (林智勝), who is also the first baseman for the CTBC Brothers in the CPBL, expressed support for the new program, saying that it would motivate retired professional baseball players to return to their hometowns to coach young talent.
“CPBL players with more than 10 years league experience can obtain a C-level coaching certificate and exchange it for a B-level certificate later without further testing. They would have significant advantage over other job applicants for the positions of baseball coaches,” Lin said.
“They would not be paid as much as they were when playing professionally, but many of them would still return to Hualien or Taitung and coach ground-level baseball teams,” he added.
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