GB Women’s Softball receives private donations

Wed 16 May 2018


There seems to be very little chance that the GB Women’s Fastpitch Softball programme will receive any help from the British government in our quest to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.  But the programme has recently received two generous private donations that will definitely make a difference.

One donation has been received from a member of the British softball community who has chosen to remain anonymous.

The other donation has come from the family of US-based former GB youth player Amira Solomon, who played with the GB Under-16s at the European Cadette Championship in Sardinia in 2015 and with the GB Under-19s when Great Britain won the gold medal at the 2016 European Junior Women’s Championship in Spain.

Amira has since given up competitive softball to concentrate on her university studies, but has also achieved distinction in another sport, winning the gold medal for the USA in the discus and a bronze medal in the javelin competition in the junior female section at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Memories

In making their donation, Amira and her parents, Miriam Solomon and John Clarke, wrote to GB Softball to say: “Without a doubt, Amira's experience playing for her British National Teams has far and away been the best team experience of her softball career.  The coaches have been so supportive.  The competition has been outstanding.  And, most importantly, her teammates and their parents have become friends with us all.  In appreciation for all the wonderful friendships and memories that all three of us have treasured, we are making a financial contribution to British Softball that we hope will make a meaningful difference toward the success of the female fastpitch programmes competing at the international and world level. 

“This donation is our way of continuing to support all our friends in GB Softball as the GB teams try to become the best they can be.  Thank you all for the experiences, the memories, and the friendships, which we hope will endure forever.”

John Clarke has also expressed his hope that their donation will inspire other families associated with the GB programme, and who can afford to do so, to provide similar support.

Uses

Both donations to GB Softball were given with specific reference to helping the GB Women achieve Olympic qualification, and both will be used in 2018 and 2019 to help players in the upper age groups of the programme get more experience training and playing together before the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, scheduled for September or October 2019.

These donations made it easier for the GB Management Committee to decide to start a new GB Under-22 Team this year, which will enter the European Under-22 Championship for the first time.  Eleven players have been selected to take part in both the European Under-19 and Under-22 Championships which take place in back-to-back weeks in July, and some money from the donations will be used to help players who might struggle to afford both competitions.

Similarly, the GB Women’s Team this year will play in both the prestigious – and expensive! – WBSC Women’s World Championship in Japan in August, and also in Europe’s first-ever “Super 6 Tournament” in the Netherlands in September, designed to give the top six teams in the European rankings more high-level competitive experience.

Money from the donations will be used to help mitigate the costs of the trip to Japan, and, where necessary, to help players attend both competitions.

At the same time, the GB programme will hope to hold back a significant proportion of the two donations for 2019, to help those players who may be selected next year for the Olympic Qualifier to spend as much time training and playing together as possible in the lead-up to this all-important competition.

Hope

The teams that are likely to be GB’s main competitors for the one European place in the Tokyo Olympic Games – the Netherlands, Italy and the Czech Republic -- all have public funding, which gives them a significant advantage over our programme.

The two donations the GB programme has received won’t be able to eliminate that advantage entirely -- but they can certainly help to reduce it.  Our coaches and players are very grateful for this support!

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