Rays sponsor baseball academy in Brazil

Rays sponsor academy in Brazil

The Tampa Bay Rays are breaking new ground by sponsoring an academy in Brazil, according to The Associated Press.

The Rays are investing $6.5 million over the next five years to promote the game in the South American country with over 190 million people and will offer free after-school training to up to 4,000 young people.

"Brazil has been good at producing athletes," Andres Reiner, special director of development for the Rays, told the AP. "Brazil has a lot of people, millions of young people and not everyone can play soccer. If they aren't good soccer players they can be good baseball players."

The Rays already have two academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and will operate the Brazilian academy in Marilia, a city in the state of Sao Paulo. Mario Bulgareli, the mayor of Marilia, told the AP that the city will provide transportation to and from the school and the Rays will provide the equipment and administration.

"The academy will give an opportunity to low-income children to play a sport that they might not have had access to before," Bulgareli said.

The facility is scheduled to be constructed in July and could open later this year.

Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.