“With the historical formation of the WBSC, we have a successful group of very established disciplines across both genders, and I am confident Arena Softball will complement our current line of disciplines and can expand WBSC’s global footprint further, especially among youth and women,” said Porter.
Arena Softball, which is suited for year-round training and competition, utilizes varied types of indoor facilities and can be easily adapted to various geographic, urban, street, and indoor environments.
WBSC officials believe Arena Softball can also serve as an attractive pathway, especially in areas that may have limited sport facilities, for young school-aged girls to be introduced to softball, to learn the fundamental skills (e.g., running, jumping, catching, throwing, hitting, sliding, diving, working in a team, etc.) and strategies of the game and to transition in and out of the traditional outdoor version of the sport.
“Our goal is to adapt with the times and evolve our sport to become even more relevant to young people and women, and to help promote and redefine women’s roles in sport across all levels and in society. And I am very proud of the large number of Softball players who have gone on to become leaders and role models in their communities, inspiring the next generation in both the sport- and real-world environment,” Porter expressed.
Arena Softball, and softball in general, is growing increasingly popular as a pathway into sport in Muslim and other cultures where dress codes and rules can be easily adapted for girls and young women from all backgrounds and faiths. There are already a number of countries organising this discipline and participating in tournament and Cup events.
“Because of its appeal and the ease of organising Arena Softball, it has the potential to quickly develop into a valuable asset and become an integral part of our growth strategy moving forward,” Porter pointed out.
Arena Softball offers opportunities for wheelchair athletes, as well, Porter noted. The Czech Republic hosted the first European slow pitch wheelchair Softball tournament this past December.
The Dutch Baseball Softball Federation recently held its 5th Donnay / Right To Play Future Stars Indoor Softball Tournament, allowing athletes to extend their playing season and coaches the ability to identify talent for national team selection.
National championships have been organised in many countries, including Sweden who crowned a new champion this January.
The British Softball Federation has also announced the expansion of the indoor game by signing a partnership with Sporta, the national association of recreational and cultural companies, to include Arena Softball in recreational facilities countrywide, highlighting the sport’s physical education value and its ability to share existing facilities.
While Softball’s roots developed internationally through the Fast Pitch version of the game, other disciplines (e.g., slow pitch, modified, beach, etc.) have all contributed to the many millions of new athletes that have gravitated toward Softball and who practice the various disciplines in countries spread throughout the world.
Porter advocates the development and the opportunity for young and senior athletes to participate in the various discipline options in Softball.
The WBSC’s Softball branch is also studying the prospects of organising a World League of School Softball. Universities are being approached to participate, including a mixed version, which are women and men competing together in a Slow Pitch discipline.