Record number of GB teams to play abroad in 2018

Mon 8 Jan 2018

A record number of national and club teams from Great Britain are likely to be playing abroad in 2018 in official tournaments hosted by the European Softball Federation (ESF) or the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

This comes at a time when new world rankings issued by the WBSC Softball Division, based on results from a wide range of competitions, show that the GB Women’s Softball programme is ranked 14th in the world out of 60 countries that have ranking points, while the GB Men’s Softball programme is ranked 13th in the world out of 23 countries with ranking points.

In Europe, the GB Women’s programme has moved up to third place, behind only Italy and the Czech Republic, while the GB Men’s programme is tied with Belgium for fifth place.  Despite losing in the final of the European Slowpitch Championship last summer, the GB Slowpitch programme remains #1 in Europe.

Altogether, in 2018, one and possibly two GB Softball Teams will attend World Championship competitions, while five GB Teams will compete in European Championships and six British club teams will travel to European Cup tournaments.

It’s worth remembering that all of this activity represents tremendous effort and sometimes sacrifice on the part of players and their families, as no GB National Teams, and certainly no British club teams, receive any external funding apart from a small amount of help provided by the British Softball Federation.

World Championships and Cups

Having qualified by winning the bronze medal at last summer’s European Women’s Championship in Italy, the GB Women’s Fastpitch Team will travel to Chiba, Japan for the 16th Women’s World Championship, scheduled from 2-12 August this year.  The winner of this tournament (or the second-place team if Japan wins) will get a place in the Tokyo Olympic softball competition in 2020, while a number of other teams, including GB, will be using the World Championship as a stepping stone to regional Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in 2019.

This will be the sixth straight Women’s World Championship that the GB Women’s Team has attended, on a journey that has taken them to China, Venezuela, Canada (twice), the Netherlands and now Japan.

Meanwhile, the GB Under-19 Men’s Fastpitch Team staff is still considering whether to enter the team in the WBSC Junior Men’s World Championship for the first time.  The tournament will be played this summer in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada, and a decision will be made by the end of January.

Finally, the GB Co-ed Slowpitch Team is expected to travel to Plant City, Florida once again in November 2018 to compete for the fifth straight time in the modern version of the WBSC Slowpitch World Cup.

European Championships

The following GB Teams will compete in European Championships this summer:

  • A newly-created GB Men’s Slowpitch Team will compete in the ESF’s first European Men’s Slowpitch Championship from 12-16 June in Chocen in the Czech Republic.  Nine countries have entered the tournament, though as with all ESF tournaments, there is a possibility that some may drop out before 1 March, the deadline for teams to withdraw without penalty.
  • The GB Men’s Fastpitch Team will travel to Havlickuv Brod, also in the Czech Republic, to play in the European Men’s Championship from 25-30 June.  A record number of 12 teams have entered at this point, though drop-outs are possible.
  • The GB Under-19 Women’s Fastpitch Team will be in Staranzano, Italy from 16-21 July to defend the gold medal they won at the 2016 European Junior Women’s Championship.  Twenty countries have signed up to take part.
  • A newly-created GB Under-22 Women’s Fastpitch Team will travel to Trnava, Slovakia from 23-28 July, along with 16 other countries, to take part in the European Under-22 Women’s Championship.  This team has been created to help our players bridge the gap between Under-19 and Senior levels of play.
  • Finally, the GB Under-13 Girls Fastpitch Team, probably competing as the London Cubs, will once again play in the ESF’s annual Massimo Romeo Youth Trophy tournament, scheduled for 15-18 August in its usual venue in Collecchio, near Parma in Italy.  As the deadline for entry is in April, the number of teams is not yet known.

European Cups

A record number of six British club teams are scheduled to take part in ESF Cup competitions this year:

  • Three British teams will be competing in the European Co-ed Slowpitch Super Cup in Riccione, Italy from 31 July-4 August: H2O as defending champions, and Chromies and Pioneers as winners of the last two National Championship titles.  At the present time, 19 teams – the highest total ever – have entered the tournament, including, for the first time, teams from Italy.
  • The Mix, as winners of the Women’s Division in the Great Britain Fastpitch League last year, will compete in the Women’s European Cup, the middle-ranked of three ESF Women’s Cup tournaments, from 20-25 August in La Loggia, Italy.  At the present time, 11 teams have signed up.  A British team, the London Angels, won this competition in 2013.
  • The Angels, as runners-up in the Great Britain Fastpitch League last year, will play in the European Women’s Cup-Winners Cup, scheduled for 20-25 August in the Netherlands.  A total of 17 teams have entered this competition.
  • Finally, a London Meteors Men’s Fastpitch Team will travel to Prague in the Czech Republic for the European Men’s Super Cup, to be played from 3-8 September.  This is generally Europe’s largest Cup competition, and 21 teams have signed up for the 2018 edition.

Best wishes to all our national and club teams that are playing in official competitions abroad this year, as Great Britain continues to punch above its weight in international softball.

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