International baseball game helping connect Leamington community with migrant workers
A Mexican baseball team came to Leamington, Ont. this weekend for the first annual Mex-Can International Baseball Tournament.
The friendly competition was aimed at helping connect ballplayers in Windsor-Essex with their counterparts in Mexcio.
Four teams were entered in the tournament. Leamington and Essex entered their local ballclubs, there was a team made up of migrant workers from Leamington and another who came all the way from Celaya, Mexico.
Alberto Bernal is the Mexican consul in Leamington, and helped organize the tournament. He says although this keeps the boys active in competition, it's giving them something even more.
"The idea is beyond the trophy, beyond that is the companionship, the opportunity to have some time together, gather and enjoy something they all like as a sport," he said.
Bernal said for many of the Mexican players this was their first time visiting Canada. Hector Sorto is the captain of the Mexican team, he says this is an experience he won't forget.
"The important thing about this is because we are trying to create a brotherhood between the city of Celaya and Leamington" he said. "We are very thankful for the invitation and we have had the best treatment."
Sorto says the only trouble he ran into was packing too much warm clothing, which he thought would be useful in Canada.
According to Bruce Peacock, the chair of the migrant workers community program, more than 3,500 Mexican workers are in the Leamington / Kingsville area. He says they are a huge part of Leamington's culture and should get the chance to have fun and connect with the local community.
"They work here, they pay taxes here, they are definitely a part of the community," Peacock said. "It's a big boom to the area to have them here."
Peacock figures about $32 million were spent here last year by migrant workers.
Zosimo Romo Rodriguez moved to Leamington four years ago to work on a farm. He plays for Leamington's migrant team. Rodriguez says this tournament means a lot to the local players who are trying to make a life for themselves here.
"It's a good sport for us to relax and to have a good time with other pals from the job," he said.