Despite a local fan base, the UAE Little League All-Stars fell to the hosts Philippines and are still in search of their first win in Manila, writes Paul Radley.
Little League World Series: UAE All-Stars feel right at home in Philippines
Playing on opposition territory against the host nation of an international competition can often be a daunting experience for a sportsman. Probably even more so when the protagonists are mostly just 11-year-old schoolboys.
However, the "all star" baseball team who are representing the UAE in a bid to reach the Little League World Series in the United States were afforded a little ovation in the Philippines on Wednesday.
Even though they were facing the host nation at the Asia Pacific and Middle East Little League tournament in Manila, they had their own cheer squad for the day.
A selection of schools in vicinity of where the competition is taking place have been assigned each of one of the 12 teams to both research the background of the country as well as support the team.
Even though it meant backing a foreign side instead of their own national team, students from the San Fernando Elementary School braved the rain to support their adopted UAE team in the pool match Wednesday.
"Today we had a really good sized group of supporters, they all had UAE flags and they were all cheering us on," said Joe Page, the coach of the cosmopolitan side from the Emirates.
"After the game was over we thanked them with a courtesy bow, had a quick team meeting then went over to thank them.
"All the iPads came out and a very large number of pictures were taken with our kids taken with the school kids then they chatted for a while together after."
Despite the bonus of having a support troop, the UAE selection fell to a third successive defeat in the competition, having lost out to Hong Kong and Singapore on the opening days.
Their 13-9 loss did represent a minor triumph, though. They had initially trailed their hosts 12-1 before crossing home plate eight times over the course of the fourth and fifth innings.
The UAE side continue their campaign when they face Indonesia on Thursday.
UAE Little League All-Star schedule/results
Hong Kong 12 UAE 3
Singapore 8 UAE 5
Philippines 14 UAE 9
Indonesia v UAE
UAE v Guam
group play-offs, teams TBD
final, teams TBD
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