As Whalley, B.C., heads for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA, one of the team’s key players will be there after all.
An immigration issue threatened Dio Gama’s availability for the series, but the federal Immigration Department in Canada will issue him a temporary resident permit so he can be with his team, per The Province. He will be accompanied to Williamsport by a famiy friend.
“I’m really excited,” Gamma said upon finding out he could travel. “We’re jumping around.”
The 13-year-old’s status came into question last week when a federal court judge ordered a review into his parents’ legal case, per CBC Sports. The case is reportedly in ‘legal limbo’ as Gama’s parents were advised to not leave the country as they may not be let back in after the tournament concludes.
Here’s 13 year old Dio Gama with his brothers. They are crazy about baseball. Dio was born in the States. Has American citizenship. Moved to Canada three years ago to be with his family. Dio is part of Whalley, BC Little League team who just won National title. pic.twitter.com/ZBxenHuqUJ
— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) August 13, 2018
Gama has lived in Canada for three years while his parents have sought refugee status in the country for more than a decade. The issue with the immigration case stems from his father’s drug conviction in the United States in 1997. Noe Gama agreed to a plea deal that included a five-year prison sentence and deportation from the country. Another complicating factor was that Gama’s father has reportedly been previously denied Canadian citizenship.
The Gama family met with a member of Parliament, Ken Hardie, to discuss how the 13-year-old could join his team and be eligible to return to the country. Hardie found Gama eligible for the temporary-resident permit and put the family in touch with senior officials in Ottawa to expedite the application, The Province noted.
Several politicians, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, were contacted in an effort to get Gama to Friday’s game.
Despite the off-field situation, Gama contributed two triples and four RBI in the team’s 11-0 Little League championship victory over Glace Bay, N.S. on Saturday in Mirabel, Que.
“He’s torn into 100 pieces,” Noe Gama told CBC Sports about his son. “As soon as the game was over he came to me and started to cry. It’s so difficult for him and me.”
WEST IS BEST… again! @WLLBALL are @LittleLgeCanada Champions. Team B.C. has now won 12 of the last 13 Canadian Championships and will represent Canada at the 2018 #LLWS ??⚾️ pic.twitter.com/mmhil2Jnhc
— CBC Sports (@cbcsports) August 11, 2018
At 13, this is Gama’s last chance to compete in the event. However, speaking to reporters after the situation went public, the younger Gama displayed a Major League veteran’s poise.
“This has always been my dream, to play for Canada at the World Series,” he said. “I was playing the national championship like it was my last game with my team.”