The latest Canadian craze in children’s baseball leagues is Rally Cap, a term that originally referred to a baseball cap worn inside-out. The name is apt, it turns out, because this new innovation is turning the baseball world upside down.
Baseball Manitoba’s executive director Jason Miller couldn’t be more sold on the concept. Since 2010 he’s seen the number of children under the age of 7 playing Rally Cap nearly double from 1500 to 2700. At the same time it’s revolutionized how most people imagine the game.
“Baseball Canada and Baseball Manitoba both have put a lot of time and effort into this program and making it easily adaptable for any association, any community,” Miller told Sport for Life.
“It was designed to give coaches the freedom to teach fundamental movement skills and get kids out and active. Yes, there’s bats and balls and bases, but really we’re bringing them together for exercise and fun.”
Miller said the shift towards a Rally Cap model has necessitated a huge culture change, including the creation of 6-person teams. This decision was made to ensure kids weren’t spending time sitting on the bench. That’s just one way they’ve made the sport more inclusive, and more age-appropriate according to the long-term development in sport and physical activity pathway.
“There’s no classifications or divisions so anyone can play on any team. Girls are certainly included, people with disabilities can play, and we’re always finding ways within the program to pair kids of different ages or sizes or abilities,” he said.
“Inclusion is essential to our sport, obviously, but it really has an impact on the community. Six years ago there were very few kids in our neighbourhood playing, now we have 50 kids who are playing baseball. We’re bringing families together by giving them the opportunity to play together.”
Sport for Life is thrilled to see quality sports concepts that we’ve been championing go mainstream, and applauds the work being done to include participants of all abilities.
“Rally Cap has absolutely revolutionized the way we look at children’s sport. Too often we superimpose adult games and rules onto children. Rally Cap is developmentally appropriate, inclusive and based on the feedback we are hearing, the participants are having FUN” said Carolyn Trono, Director of Quality Sport.
“Spend an hour on the field with these players and you’ll instantly recognize how this keeps kids engaged, physically active and having fun with their peers. You’ll see lots of smiles, you’ll hear lots of laughter. I’m thrilled it’s now caught on in Manitoba.”