Some international fastball and a traditional Māori dance will be front and centre Wednesday, July 2 at King’s Stadium when the New Zealand national junior men’s team makes a stop in Kelowna.
The Kiwi juniors will take on the Kelowna Major Men’s Fastball Association all-star team in an exhibition doubleheader beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Prior to the first pitch of the opening game, the New Zealanders will be performing their renowned Haka dance, a traditional ancestral war cry.
Game organizer and local player Richard Haldane has seen the dance many times in the past and never grows tired of the spectacle.
“It’s just a great show,” Haldane said of the Haka dance. “Bascially they’re warning their competitors that they’re coming for you. It’s almost bone-chilling, a really neat experience and will be great for the crowd.”
As far as the fastball is concerned, Haldane said fans will see a young, high-end international team in action against an older and experienced group of local players.
“New Zealand’s senior team is the world champs and this is the feeder team to that, so you’re going to see some world-class players in action,” said Haldane. “It’ll be a good test for us, but we have a lot of guys who have played high-end ball and we should give them some good competition. They (New Zealand) don’t want easy games because they’re preparing for junior worlds in Whitehorse.”
The Kelowna all-stars are:
• Centennials—Travis Kunz, Trent Kunz, Tyler Siegmann and Brandon West.
• Six Mile Raiders—Chris Bonneau and Shane Miller.
• Andre’s —Chad Blanleil, Travis Blanleil, Kevin Careless, Dean Hyde and Colin McKenzie.
• Rangers—Aaron Bacon, Chad Bozak, Josh Chernoff, Nik Chernoff, George Currie, Rich Haldane and Scott Parsons.
The coaches are Lea Kunz and Rene Blanleil.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with kids under 17 receiving free admission.
All minor ball players are urged to wear their team colours.