ISF President Don Porter launched the two-year initiative at a press conference at the VIII Junior Women’s World Championship. The campaign is supported by a new-look logo that is a contemporary design of a softball, in the five Olympic colors, above the campaign name Back Softball.
Porter also unveiled a 10-point blueprint for theBack Softball campaign designed to improve the sport even further across the criteria the International Olympic Committee (IOC) uses to assess sports for the Olympic Programme.
The International Olympic Committee meets in October, 2009, in Copenhagen for the 121st IOC Session and will vote then on the sports to be included on the Olympic Programme for the Games of XXXI Olympiad in 2016.
Within the Back Softball blueprint, the ISF pledges to:
• Increase the number of National Softball Federations from 128 to 150 by 2009. Porter revealed that in the last few weeks two more nations had applied for, and will be granted, National Federation status: Sierra Leone and Jordan.
• Increase the number of worldwide softball participants — especially youth — to an estimated 12.5 million, an increase of 25%, by 2009.
• Increase the number of federations across the Middle East with an emphasis on providing women and girls in the region with an accessible and acceptable route to sporting participation.
The blueprint is based on the recommendations of the ISF Strategic Task Force (an advisory group comprising key opinion formers and decision makers in the Olympic Movement) which has met twice already this year.
Commenting on the blueprint, Porter said, “The decision by the IOC in 2005 to exclude softball from the Programme for London 2012 was a wake-up call for our sport. We have since widely consulted the Olympic Movement and have taken on board some very valuable advice. Today is a reflection of that advice as we lay out our plans to meet and exceed the IOC evaluation criteria.
“In particular, we are looking to increase the number of young people playing softball across the world as well as help more women and girls play sport across the Middle East and other similar societies. That is why we welcomed the recent application from Jordan to set up a national federation. This will be the first of many new softball federations in the Middle East.”
Porter also announced that the ISF will have several campaign surprises in the next two years, which could include appointing a campaign director from Europe and setting up a Back Softball campaign headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Porter concluded, “Two years may seem like a long time, but in campaigning it’s just enough time to make some real improvements and then communicate them. This will be an action-orientated campaign. Through this initiative, we are also internationalizing our administration. For example, we’ve talked about setting up the campaign headquarters in Europe, run by a multi-lingual Back Softball campaign director. Even the designer of our new campaign logo was chosen from Valencia in Spain.
“There will be a series of other announcements about our campaign over the coming months. We will be focused, dynamic, and flexible. Many people firmly believe that softball is a real asset to the Olympic Movement. Today is the start of proving just how much of an asset we will be in 2016. We are in this to succeed.”
Softball has been a prominent sport on the Olympic Programme from 1996 to Beijing 2008 and was the first sport to successfully run a test event for Beijing during the ISF’s XI Women’s World Championship in August/September 2006.