Since the Back Softball campaign and blueprint were launched at the ISF’s VIII Jr. Women’s World Championship in Holland in late June 2007, dramatic headway has been made in many of the ten blueprint action points. Most noteworthy are:
— More nations have signed up to become Member Federations – notably Jordan and Sierra Leone, thus bringing the total to 130 national softball federations under the ISF umbrella.
— In order to further broaden the reach of softball to young people, the ISF has recently entered into discussi¬ons with the International University Sports Federation (FISU) about staging joint programs.
— The ISF is making great strides to increase female participation in all areas of the sport by staging worldwide seminars to secure more female officials. The first event will be a global Female Umpire Forum at the ISF headquarters at the end of this week with a further seminar for female umpires during the October 24th - 27th ISF Congress in Manila.
— The ISF has started a major program to develop a wheelchair discipline of softball for submission to the International Paralympic Committee for future inclusion of the sport in the Paralympic Games. In addition, softball will be included in the Special Olympics in Shanghai in October 2007.
— So far in 2007, the ISF has distributed softball equipment worth nearly USD$250,000 to 19 developing nations. This has been supported by coaching help where appropriate.
— International TV coverage has increased this year, with the sport enjoying coverage from six events from June to August alone.
ISF President Don Porter said, “The Back Softball campaign has given us a focus and real momentum. As a result we have already made great strides in increasing the global participation and inclusiveness of softball. We have much more to achieve but we are definitely on track. We firmly believe that softball will add great value to the Olympic Movement for generations to come which is why we are moving up a gear with our campaigning.”
Back Softball is entering into a very busy schedule of campaigning in October.
First, there will be a strong Back Softball presence in the form of an exhibition at Sportel in Monaco, October 15-18 that will seek to further increase the number and quality of global television partners for the sport.
Secondly, Back Softball will be actively promoted at all major forthcoming events, including the China Cup, which is a final test event for Beijing 2008.
Thirdly, the ISF is devoting a workshop to Back Softball at their Congress next month in Manila. This is to fully engage and empower all the National Softball Federations to take an active role in the campaign to re-instate softball as an Olympic sport.
Mr. Porter added, “Millions of young softball players around the world are relying on us to secure Olympic status for their sport. We must not let them down.”
IOC Members will decide on the sports for the 2016 Olympic Games in a secret ballot at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in October 2009.
The Back Softball blueprint is available at www.backsoftball.com.