Mojmír Jankovič: “…I think the progress is visible…”

We took advantage of a chance to talk with the head of Slovak Baseball Federation Mojmír Jankovič after the Friday’s gala. We were interested in how he saw Slovak baseball progress and what are the aims of SBF for the future.

Mojmír, how did you come up with the idea of organize the gala?

The idea came together easily. Back in the day secretary Braňo Strečanský started the tradition of such nights of awards. But the tradition slowly died out. I got the idea when I thought about the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the federation. I consulted with important baseball names in Slovakia and I invited the people we saw here. I would be happy to invite more, but you can’t always get what you want. Even so, I’m happy we got together so many people, and I sincerely believe they were having fun.

By the end you said you wanted to organize such galas every year, but next time with more focus on the players. So do you already have any ideas on what they should look like?

I have some ideas. I would be really happy if clubs took part and they would send parents with their children, or for children to bring their parents to such galas. So they could see when they receive an individual, or club awards. Most of the time these awards are given out on the field after winning the final game, but the individual awards, such as the best offensive player, pitcher, MVP of the final series, or the whole league, we have space to give them out here.

You are with Slovak baseball for the entirety of the 30 years. How do you see the progress in those 30 years?

From my point of view, it’s unbelievable, but I have to sincerely say, also insufficient. Slovak baseball is approaching quality of A-group, when we talk about European Championship. Personally I think we should do better and we can do better, we just lack more passions, the way we saw it in the Czech Republic and in Bohemian and Moravian clubs. They are on a higher level and I would like to see us get there, because we have passionate people. We need to increase the player base, especially with the children, as I mentioned. And that’s probably the only right way how to improve baseball here. But back to your question. I think the progress is visible in past 30 years.

From my point of view, after all I don’t live in Slovakia anymore, it seems Slovak baseball is only situated in western Slovakia. Is this something you want to focus on, as a president, to get baseball to other parts of Slovakia, I mean especially center and east?

Definitely. We have a team in Košice, but there was larger tradition of baseball in Košice. There was tradition of baseball in Žilina, in Liptovský Mikuláš, etc. There was baseball in Poprad, in Považská Bystrica, in Zvolen. There were teams there but they continually ceased to be, and the enclave of the baseball players in the most dominant towns, such as Trnava, or Bratislava, could also be thanks to people moving there for work or studies. So the same way a lot of good Slovak players move to the Czech Republic, so do the players from east and center, unfortunately, move to western Slovakia. Time will tell whether we will be successful, but the goal certainly is for us to have at least one, or two teams in each of the regions of east and center.

Another issue of Slovak baseball is the lack of fields. Does the federation have any project for the upcoming years, how to increase the number of fields in Slovakia?

Well we do and I’m happy for it, because we have more people, former players, who gradually move to youth coaching positions, especially U10 and U12. My goal is to start U9 category in the next two years, and then gradually U8, because I believe it’s a right step. And these people, passionate people who coach children, they also try to think about the fields. So there is some vision. We want a much greater collaboration with the town districts, the way it used to be. Right now the mayors, especially from the smaller villages around Bratislava, have a huge tendency to help us out.

Czech Republic relish the opportunity such as FirstCup and SuperCup and their impact on the development and convincing young players to stay with baseball. Are you looking at the similar opportunities in Slovakia, to organize such tournaments that will stay with the young players as a nice memory and give them a reason to stay with the baseball longer?

Certainly, it’s a great idea. But since we are a smaller federation, we have fewer people to organize things and it takes us longer. But this is a really great idea. We took part in SuperCup in Hluboká. It was something fantastic. It is not a tournament, it’s a festival of the young players and they skills.

As far as the senior category goes, we only qualified for European Championship once. Unfortunately, we were unable to remain there, but boys played good games there. The issue was we were unable to finish a well started game. Could it be because Slovak baseball doesn’t have much experience with the international baseball? And is there any vision on how to give the boys more chances to play international games and tournaments?

There is a vision, but I’m not sure whether there’s a chance. If it’s possible, I would be more than happy to support travelling around the world, at least to the United States, Cuba, or maybe to Asia. That’s were we have a lot of work to do, for us to start the communication with these countries, who have strong baseball game management. It’s not always about coaching quality, but more about Slovak mentality. When it seems the game is won, we seemingly let up and we don’t know how to finish the game. I will be glad to be wrong. And the way we saw it against Ireland, we can do it. So it depends on game management, the players we have and whether we have a good day. From my point of view we should work on our offense and batting, because that’s a weakness of Slovak baseball.

Czech, but also German and French baseball went the way of supporting young players, sending them overseas. Do you have a similar program, or are you preparing one for the future for Slovak talents or prospects, so they could go to these countries, or at least to the Czech Republic and support their baseball growth?

We don’t have a program as such, but it’s already happening. There are two really good players from Skalica who currently play for Třebíč. They study there, so they have good conditions. As for the other players, we are looking for a way to get baseball to schools first. We want to use Baseball5 for it, because the issue is, nobody knows about baseball in Slovakia, still. This is probably our biggest task now. Promote baseball, also thanks to Baseball5 and Olympic games in 2028. I think that if such event even reaches Youtube or Facebook, we can help with it.

So there’s not enough knowledge. We have a player, who is close to Major League Baseball, Adam Macko. There is a chance it could happen next year. He could help with promotion of baseball in media.

Certainly, but we would need a support in getting in contact with him, because we are talking to him through his father and manager and the results are not satisfactory for us. I’m not saying we want him to play for the national team, but a few comments or posts for our page would be great.

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