Softball Victoria spoke to their Aussie Steelers representative Ryan Sinclair ahead of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship kicking off this week in Prague. This article originally appeared on vic.softball.org.au.
Victorian representative Ryan Sinclair and the Aussie Steelers are set to embark on their 2019 WBSC World Championship campaign in Prague this week.
SV Media caught up with Sinclair, looking into his personal journey to Steelers selection, the team’s preparation in the lead-up and the influence Coach Kere Johanson has had on the playing group.
Sinclair’s journey to selection has been far from easy. Speaking on the brief break he took from the sport, he said it allowed him to return rejuvenated and eager for the next challenge.
“Following the 2017 World Championships in Canada, I took a hiatus for nine months, which was good to freshen up the mind and the body,” said Sinclair.
“As of mid-2018, I got back into training for the Victorian team, competed at Nationals earlier this year and put myself up for reselection.
“I’ve been leading up to this tournament for 12 months, it’s been a bit of a challenge over that length of time.”
Due to the Steelers players being based all across Australia, the team hasn’t always trained as a group. Luckily for Sinclair, he has elite Victorian based companions that have helped him through his preparation.
“About a month ago we all met up for a training camp at the AIS in Canberra. Then back in Victoria, I’m lucky enough to have a number of elite athletes, including Joel Goodall & Jayden Bamford around to train with.
“We train together once a week for the past couple of months, so I have really enjoyed training together in that circle,” added Sinclair.
“The lead up has been good, the team is very close and we’ve been working hard over the past six weeks. We’re really looking forward to the challenge that’s coming up.”
When asked about who he’s most looking forward to playing alongside, Sinclair spoke highly of long-time teammates and friends from New South Wales, Liam O’Leary and Hayden Matthews.
“I have developed a pretty close relationship with some of the guys from New South Wales in Liam O’Leary and Hayden Matthews.
“We’re all the same age. We played in the Junior World Series together and have a lot in common. I generally room with them when I go away.
“To also play alongside two of the best pitchers in the world in our Captain Andrew Kirkpatrick and Adam Folkard, is pretty exciting with the experience and talent they bring.”
Having already represented Australia in World Championships in 2015 and 2017 respectively, Sinclair has played under a range of different coaches.
However, it’s current Steelers Coach Kere Johanson’s (KJ) unique training regime, which has added a different dynamic to the mindsets among the Steelers team.
“KJ is a whole new level, in terms of being the most in-depth coach that I’ve played & trained under. He breaks down a physically skilled game into mental skills and building mental toughness on your technique.
“It’s been an eye-opener to learn some new skills where you don’t actually use your body to train, but rather train your mind.
“It’s really interesting and it has really elevated the level of where we’re at, from a World Class team to a better squad all over.”
The Steelers travel to Prague with a serious purpose to make a big impact on the International stage, with Championship glory firmly in their sights.
“We’re aiming to be there on the last day – on championship day anything can happen and we see ourselves with the Gold medal around our necks,” added Sinclair.
“It’s just a matter of putting it all together throughout the week to give ourselves the best chance.”
From a personal perspective, Sinclair is honoured to represent Australia and is passionate about helping shape the long-term success of softball in the country.
“It’s something I have worked at for the past 10 years. I’ve been lucky enough to represent Australia twice now, it’s always a big honour to put on the green and gold.
“I hope that if young kids that play see us winning the Gold, they’ll be inspired to also be part of that, take their game to the next level and as they grow up – they’ll want to be an Aussie Steeler!”
The team spent their last week in Canberra at the AIS, before heading over to Amsterdam for the lead-up Zeister Slot Tournament where they placed third. They have arrived in Prague, Czech Republic before opening their WBSC World Championships campaign against Singapore on Saturday morning at 12:00am AEST.
The complete schedule is available at softball.org.au