Petr Ditrich: “I firmly believe Slovaks have what it takes to return to A-category”

Slovak end of the year gala also brought a connection between Czech and Slovak baseball, after Slovak Baseball Federation awarded ČBA chairman Petr Ditrich, giving him a honorary membership in SBF. For this reason why asked Petr Ditrich for an interview after the event.

Slovak Baseball Federation organized a gala after many years. How did you like the event?

The even was, naturally, perfect. After a several years and as a part of 30 year anniversary. They basically showed all the results from the history. It is very interesting how active Slovak Baseball Federation is from the point of view of its size. There is an ambition leadership in the federation. They started Hall of Fame and have a lot of ideas. The federation is heading in a right direction.

As a long-term president of Czech Baseball Association you are basically in charge, one could say, for as long as Slovak Baseball Federation exists? You have to have a lot of shared memories. When you remember the past 30 years, which one is your favorite?

There are a lot of memories. It starts with the first congress, because it was on that congress in 1993 in Sweden where we were accepted together with Slovak Baseball Federation and with our softball partners. So we came there as four new federations. The connection is given historically, it’s the closeness of the countries. Basically, I come to Slovakia for baseball only three times a year. We welcome Slovak clubs, Slovak functionaries, Slovaks played at Prague Baseball Week. We had great photos from SuperCup, we meet each other at European cups. European Championship of cadets were mentioned, which was played in Brno and in Trnava. So there is a lot of connection. And what was mentioned a lot is the performance of Slovak teams. I think they still didn’t reach their peak and I firmly believe Slovaks believe what it takes to return to A-category, but it will take work. The opposition is improving, especially in youth categories. They have potential. They don’t have a wide player base, but the oscillation between A-category and qualification is realistic.

I remember you were rating the collaboration of cadets European Championship in Brno and Trnava positively. Do you play any co-organized competitions in the future?

Not right now. We finished European Championship so we are still saturated from that, but we certainly want to organize youth events. If we were to co-organize them with someone, it would be Slovakia. We will always keep an eye on our neighbors, the way their fields in Slovakia improve, I can imagine even the A-category. By the way, they already hosted U23 which is such pre-step to big baseball, and I think Trnava could organize it even now.

Some Slovak functionaries told me the Czech Republic is something of a role model for them. That they try to sorta copy some of the steps you took. Do you see any way Czech baseball or association could help Slovak Federation with an advice or any other way?

We always give advice. Naturally, they are advices of an older brother. We can certainly exchange experiences, but I want to say that there are things from Slovak side which are advantageous for us. I’m really happy that we share experiences. There are few who realize this, but I remember back in 1992 when Czechoslovak national team was mostly build from Czech players, and if there were any Slovak it was there basically because it was required. Because it was Czechoslovak national team. By that I want to say there was a huge difference from the start and Slovakia is catching up with us. Whether it’s a lot or even more that’s always a question. The starting position was really like that. And even the previous chairmen say how hectic it often was, and how difficult it was at the beginning. And it makes sense, in my opinion there were like five clubs and there had to be four presidents divided to baseball, baseball, softball, softball. So I admire how ready we are to help each other.

You said at the gala that Slovak team has performance to play in A-category. What do you base your opinion on Slovakia deserving a place in European top 16?

I think they deserve the place. The same way I think Austria deserves it. Maybe it was not entirely correct. I mean the performance of the players born and raised by the program. Then I think it would be something different. Of course I understand the other teams strengthen themselves, but if I said they deserve it, they would deserve it for their youth program, which still have some reserves, but would still deserve it.

There are opinion in both Czech and Slovak community that it could be beneficial to take some Slovak clubs to the lower leagues in the Czech Republic, for example First League. What do you think about it?

It is about those clubs a lot. That’s why we are organizing it. I can imagine it and it’s even on a table, it’s every two years. And we keep it in mind. It might be connected to the model of European league. If there is European League and teams will play domestic league, then how would it work in Slovakia? If the teams were to play Czech league, and then there was Slovak championship? The coin always has two sides.

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