''I really felt like an American boy''
Please introduce yourself
My name is Luděk Opluštil. I'm 18 years old and I'm from Břeclav, the Czech Republic. It's a small town 300 km south-east from Prague in a region that everybody knows just because of wine. I've been playing softball for about nine years now. Currently, I am playing for Břeclav Locos and Eagles Praha. I joined the U19 national team in September 2016 after one year without playing because of an injury. I switched from catcher to shortstop and second base after the injury, my secondary positions at the moment.
What made you want to play softball?
I started playing softball when I was about nine years old. During a kids' school camp, my future coach Pajda came to me and said: 'You little guy, you're throwing well. Don't you want to try softball?' I was not sure about it, I was just a little kid. At first, I did not come to try softball. I started half a year later when he came to our class again to ask if anyone wanted to. I really felt like an American boy because I was playing something like baseball you know.
Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
The biggest sports in the Czech Republic are soccer and ice hockey and we're far behind them. We have the best leagues in Europe for men's fastpitch but we have to get better. We have men, women, junior, cadets and t-ball leagues. So our little ones get to play from an early age. I have hope that we can get better and more popular but it will take a time to build something big.
How often do you practice with your national team and what do the practices look like?
We have training camps almost every month about 2+ days. We do everything we need to do so we play better softball than our opponents.
What is your goal for the 2018 season?
I want to prove that a small country like the Czech Republic can do big on the world stage and that a small town like Břeclav can do big in the Czech Republic.
What's your best experience with the national team so far?
Definitely playing against Argentina juniors. But there'll be much more to come.
Do you have a pre-game routine?
I just do some warm-up track and field stuff, hitting, fielding and most of all have fun during it (talk to the guys etc). Just to get into a good mood before the game.
Who's your role model and why?
My role model is Manny Machado. I kinda see myself in him. Not only in the way he is playing but also in the person he is.
What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
The best advice is from my grandmother: 'Just do not give a shit'.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
I think we should just be a group of guys who are having fun and want to win badly. Don't overthink it just go and do.
- Romy Marinus-