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On the Web: Raul Castro welcomes home Cuban players

Cuban President Raul Castro welcomed theCuban delegation that participated in the 2009 World Baseball Classicwhen they arrived on Friday morning at the Jose Marti InternationalAirport in Havana.

Raul greeted each member of the delegation and urged them to continueworking hard for future tournaments.

During a brief ceremony, Frederich Cepeda, the best Cuban player duringthe competition, thanked the Cuban people and authorities for theirconstant support.

"We would have liked to return with the victory for our people but it wasnot possible on this occasion," he said. "We are all here, holding ourheads high and willing to continue giving our best for our Revolution,"he added.

Cepeda stressed that the experiences learned during the Classic wouldhelp Cuban baseball players improve their quality and performance.

The keynote address at the ceremony was delivered by VP Esteban Lazo,who, paraphrasing an idea of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, said: "Regardless of the result, what really matters is the honor andcourage with which you fight for the triumph."

Lazo added that, although they wanted the victory, the Cuban peopleadmire and recognize the effort and loyalty of the team.

He also praised the exceptional technical skills of the Cuban playersthat were reflected in the victories obtained against powerful teams fullof professional players from several leagues around the world.

The Cuban VP of the Council of State also recalled the permanent supportand encouragement the Cuban squad received from Fidel, Raul and the Cubanpeople.

He urged the sports authorities to carry out an unhurried, rigorous andthorough analysis of Cuba's participation in the 2009 World BaseballClassic and to take the necessary steps so that Cuba becomes, again, theleading world baseball nation as it has been over the past decades.

Also present at the ceremony was the President of the Cuban OlympicCommittee, Jose Ramon Fernandez, as well as other government and sportsauthorities.