ISLAMABAD: Welcoming Pakistan’s plans to expand the development of baseball, World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) president said this high-level collaboration will boost game’s positioning in this high-potential region.

The backing from the Pakistan government is in response to baseball/softball’s steady increase in popularity in the country, which is currently ranked 24th of 72 nations in the WBSC Baseball World Rankings, said a statement from WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.

“It is a heartening sign that baseball is on a constant rise in the country, which is evident from Pakistan teams’ performances in international events home and abroad,” Federal Minister for IPC Riaz Hussain Pirzada told reporters.

Through a collaboration with the Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB), the Pakistan Sports Board will support efforts to boost the Pakistan National Baseball Teams, to host international events and to explore the launch of the region’s first-ever international league, which could potentially include clubs from neighbours Afghanistan, India, Iran, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“The government is ready to cooperate with [PFB] on all aspects,” the minister said.

The statement said: “WBSC congratulates Pakistan Baseball President Syed Khawar Shah for his exceptional work, and we thank the Pakistan government for recognising baseball’s steady growth and acceptance within Pakistan’s sports community. Following the historic decision by the International Olympic Committee to include baseball/softball in the Olympic Games, WBSC fully expects to see a continued acceleration in new and strengthened baseball/softball activities around the globe leading to Tokyo 2020 and beyond.”

Pakistan will be the focus of the upcoming XIII West Asia Baseball Cup 2017, as the nation welcomes the National Teams of India, Iran, Iraq, Nepal, and Sri Lanka to the Pakistan Sports Complex in Islamabad from 25 February to 1 March. Riaz Pirzada urged the National Baseball Team “to bring the nation glory” and defend Pakistan’s status as West Asia Champions.