14-year-old Zachary Ryan from Auckland has been chosen as one of the eighteen players in New Zealand's U15 Baseball team travelling to Guam for the Oceania World Cup Qualifier 2020.
Also going by the name 'Zak', he has been playing and training in baseball since the age of six at Howick-Pakuranga Club and aims to be the youngest to join the elite Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States.
Zak is raised by his single mother Mez-Mehnaaz Shabnam and says his mother has dedicated her entire life towards his passion for baseball and works multiple jobs to support him both financially and being physically present for practice sessions and games.
As Zak has been selected in the squad, he has to pay all the expenses to the qualifier tournament in Guam in the US in January 2020. His mother, Ms Shabnam, created a Givealittle Page requesting the community to help the talented young boy take one step closer to his goals.
The cost to the tournament includes travel fares, kit upgrade, accommodation, tournament fee, visa, transportation, food etc.
"This is a great opportunity for me and my baseball career as it contributes to putting my name out there and potentially could help me to be referred to in the unforeseeable future," Zak mentioned on his Givealittle page.
Zak plays as a pitcher in the team and has received Young Best Pitcher Award twice in the last three years. Zak represented U12 SuperCity Spartans twice in Australia and represented NZ in the U14 category at the Asia Pacific Little League Qualifying Tournament in Wai Hei in China.
He was also awarded Best Offensive Player of the tournament at Gold Coast Summer Classic with the highest batting percentage and told 5 home runs.
"Besides baseball, I love playing cricket but over the last five years- my skills have really spiked in Baseball through rigorous practice and training and performing at different regional, domestic and international tournaments," Zak told The Indian Weekender.
Zak's long term goal is to play for the Yankees someday and also aim to get a sports scholarship to Harvard that Baseball and his studies can take him there.
"Due to the high cost of this trip, we are encouraging families to reach out for sponsorship and grant opportunities, as the players have worked extremely hard to be able to represent their country in an international tournament, and through their hard work our goal is to win the qualifying tournament to compete in the U-15 World Cup in 2020," Scott Drinkwater, U15 New Zealand Baseball Manager said in the congratulatory letter to Zak for his selection in the national team squad.
"He is a bright child, very hard working and his intensive practise and determination to improve his game has brought him here," Ms Shabnam added.
The last date to make the payment to Baseball New Zealand for the tournament expenses is Thursday, January 9, 2020.
"I humbly request our fellow community members and friends to come forward and raise funds for this self-funded trip to the qualifier tournament Guam, which is around $5500."