Daniel de Jong has returned from a whirlwind trip in Australia, competing in the New South Whales U14 International Challenge in Sydney.
It was quite the achievement for the now-14 year old, not only representing New Zealand on the ISA under 14 team, but also being selected as one of the top 11 players out of all the teams at the tournament, making it on to the “All Stars” team.
“It was a really good learning experience, a good way to improve, and it was fun too,” he said.
Improvement has come in spades for Daniel over the past year, having only taken up the sport 13 months ago.
“It’s just, trying and having a willingness to learn,” said Daniel, trying to pin point a reason for his rapid progress. “I just tried it out and thought, ‘this is fun’, and just continued to get better.”
The best part of the competition in Sydney over March 23 – 24, Daniel said, was meeting new people in the sport, gaining experience in the game, and training under former Black Sox coach Brian Mountford.
Hayden Smith, the former NZ Softball chief executive and also coach to the ISA team, was quite impressed with Danny’s initiative to take on one of the more difficult fielding positions in the game, third base. “He made it his own,” Smith said. “His batting against some of the world’s best age-grade pitchers was also reliable.
“He stood out from the team as one of the most consistent performers and more importantly, applied new thinking to his game.”
Daniel’s achievements in the game mean Cambridge High School will be adding him to their “Hall of Fame”.
He wished to thank his club, Tom Voyle Sports Club, including coaches Wayne and Tyrone West, for all of their support in both the game and getting to Sydney.
He plans to sign up for the ISA New Zealand team again next year, and looks forward to continuing to master the game. “It’s easy to learn, but difficult to master,” he said.