WBSC Softball Congress adopts strategic plan and competition dates

Thu 22 Oct 2015

The 27th Congress of what used to be called the International Softball Federation and is now known as the WBSC Softball Division took place on 14-16 October at the Renaissance Hotel and Convention Centre in Oklahoma City, USA.

BSF President Stella Ackrell and Treasurer Mike Jennings attended as representatives of British softball, along with delegates from 41 other countries across five world softball regions.

The Congress was chaired by WBSC Softball President Dale McMann and was attended by top officials from the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), including WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.

Strategic plan

A long-range strategic plan was presented at the Congress and was overwhelmingly supported by delegates.  An Implementation Commission was appointed and will immediately start working on the plan’s execution, whose four pillars include:

  • Strengthening our organisation.
  • Developing our coaches and officials.
  • Improving our athletes.
  • Enhancing our events.

The Congress also decided, for governance and financial reasons, that the WBSC Softball Division Board of Directors will be reduced from 22 members to 13, though athletes and regions will continue to have equal representation with the rest of the Board.

World Championships

The ISF currently hosts World Championships every two years for Women, Men, Junior Women and Junior Men, and decisions were made at the Congress for World Championship hosts for 2018 and 2019.

Women:  We already know that the Women’s World Championship in 2016 will be held in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada from 15-24 July, and will be an open tournament.  The World Championship in 2018 will be in Chiba, Japan, to be played anytime from July through September.  However, this tournament will revert to the old limit of 16 teams and Regional Qualifiers, so the GB Women’s Team will have to come in the top three in European Championships in 2017 to get there.

Men:  We already know that the Men’s World Championship in 2017 will be in Whitehorse, Canada from 7-16 July.  In 2019, it will be in the Czech Republic, split between Prague and Havlickuv Brod from 13-23 June.  Both will be open tournaments.

Junior Women:  We already know that the Junior Women’s World Championship in 2017 will be in Clearwater, Florida from 24-30 July.  It 2019, it will be in Irvine, California, starting on 11 August.  Both will be open tournaments.

Junior Men:  We already know that the Junior Men’s World Championship in 2016 is in Midland, Michigan from 22-30 July.  In 2018, it will be in Prince Albert, Canada from 7-15 July.  Both will be open tournaments.

Slowpitch World Championship

The WBSC Softball Division revived the idea of a Co-ed Slowpitch World Cup Tournament in 2014, and the competition was played in January that year in Plant City, Florida, with the GB Slowpitch Team finishing with the silver medal.

The Slowpitch World Cup is now an annual tournament, and the GB Team will be competing in the next edition, also in Plant City, from 19-22 November this year.

However, the BSF has continued to push strongly for a Co-ed Slowpitch World Championship, and this has met with a positive response.  So there is a possibility that the event will be played as a World Cup and then a World Championship in alternate years, with the first World Championship perhaps as early as 2016.  A Co-ed Slowpitch World Championship, unlike the World Cup, will be played by national teams, with all players needing to be passport-holders.

Olympic Qualification

If softball does get back on the Olympic programme at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, as seems increasingly likely, only six places will be available in the Olympic Softball Tournament, rather than the eight places that were available previously.

It was announced at the Congress that places will go to the top two teams from the World Championships in 2018, plus the host (Japan).  If Japan is one of the top two teams at World Championships, then the bronze medallist from 2018 will also get a place. 

The other three places will be determined by Continental Qualifiers in 2019 – one in Europe/Africa, one in the Americas and one in Asia/Oceania.

So for Europe and the GB Women’s Team, the system is exactly as it was before: one place in the Olympics will be available for the winner of a Europe/Africa Qualifier that will be held in the year before the Olympics – in this case, in 2019.

Hall of Fame

New members were elected to the WBSC Softball Division Hall of Fame, in different categories:

Administrators:  Bob Stanton (Canada).

Coaches:  Indalecio Alejandrez Mesa (Cuba), Eddie Kohlhase (New Zealand) and Mike Stapleton (Australia).

Players:  Marissa Carpadios (Australia), Mike Harrow (Australia), Debbie Mygind (New Zealand), Dean Rice (New Zealand) and Lubomir Vrbensky (Czech Republic).

Umpires:  Neville Lawrance (Australia).

Next Congress

The next WBSC Softball Division Congress will be held in 2017, and a bid to host the event was accepted from Gaborone, Botswana.

This will mark the third time that Africa has hosted an important gathering of softball officials, following the 8th ISF Congress in South Africa in 1977 and the 1st WBSC Congress in Tunisia in 2014.

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