BaseballSoftballUK (BSUK) has received £2.3 million of Sport England funding for the next five years as one of over 120 organisations working in partnership with the agency to create improved access to sport and physical activity across the country.

The award will cover systemic and governance services over the full five-year period through March 2027 and support for talent development over a three-year period.

BSUK is the British Softball Federation’s development agency and the impact of the award for softball in the UK is significant, allowing BSUK to continue delivering its Two Sports, One Ambition strategy, launched in 2020, to get more people playing softball and baseball in more places.  The organisation will continue to focus on delivering targeted participation and talent development as well as supporting grassroots leagues, clubs and teams to become safer, stronger and more sustainable while developing BSUK’s own organisational health.

MLB announcement

The announcement of Sport England support for softball and baseball came during the same week that Major League Baseball and London Mayor Sadiq Khan revealed that regular-season MLB games will return to UK in 2023, 2024 and 2026, along with programmes and events designed to attract more youth and adult players to both sports.

BSUK Chair Phil Veasey said, “This announcement from Sport England, our most important strategic partner, allows us to continue with our mission to develop baseball and softball and use them as a means to tackle inequality, by equipping us with all the tools needed to do so.  The role that BaseballSoftballUK is set to play with future MLB London Series gives me enormous confidence that growth in our sports and our organisation will be fast-tracked like never before.”

Part of the London Series announcement was the formation of the MLB London Legacy Group to include BSUK, the Greater London Authority and other key UK stakeholders.  BSUK has been asked to lead on this Group, which will be asked to deliver a wide-ranging long-term legacy programme to maximise the impact of hosting MLB regular-season games in London, with particular focus on East London and the Boroughs of Newham, Barnet, Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

This will be achieved by working with primary and secondary schools and with local clubs and leagues in the designated areas, establishing pop-up baseball and softball community clubs, university programming, the creation of new clubs and support for existing baseball and softball clubs, as well as a focus on talent development.

Development plans

During 2022, BSUK plans to publish separate development plans for the three main formats of slowpitch softball, fastpitch softball and baseball in consultation with British Softball and Baseball Federations and the playing communities.

BSF President Ieuan Gale said, “This is a very exciting time for our sports and this new funding will go a long way in helping grow our sports both in numbers but also in quality of competition.  I look forward to working with the BSUK on this as we both strive to develop slowpitch and fastpitch softball in this country.  Softball in Britain is in a great place right now and this funding will allow us to take it to the next level of development and I’m very excited for that! 

BSUK has received major funding awards from Sport England since 2005, and this latest award recognises BSUK’s 22-year history of development across both sports, as well as its role and commitment, in alignment with Sport England, to tackle inequalities, focusing on women and girls, the LGBTQ+ community, people with long-term health conditions, disabled people, people from ethnically diverse communities and lower socio-economic groups.