The BSF Executive held its annual face-to-face weekend meeting on 13-14 January 2024 in Cheadle, near Manchester, with representatives from BaseballSoftballUK joining the meeting on the Sunday.  Below is a report on the main discussions and decisions.


Present:  Lesley Morisetti (President), Laura Burkhardt (Treasurer), Liz Graham (Competitions and Membership Office), Dr Alice Hunter (National Teams Officer), Pete Saunders (Technical Officer), Laura Hirai (Fastpitch Development Officer), Stella Ackrell (Safeguarding Officer), Nicola-Jane Dyson, Shiraz Mehra, and Jordan Cooper (General Officers), Jessica Hastings (Admin Assistant), Bob Fromer (Administrator).

Guests:  Matt Tomlin (Athletes Commission), Mike Jennings (WBSC Europe).

BSUK Representatives:  John Boyd (CEO), Gary Anderson (Performance Director), Erica Barrett (Head of Operations), Leah Holmes (Acting Head of Development).


Personal Accident Insurance and 2024 Team Fees

The BSF Executive has decided that starting this year, Personal Accident and Injury Insurance will be mandatory for all BSF-affiliated teams, and the cost – or a round number close to the cost – will be added to team fees.

Information on the BSUK website about insurance will be revised accordingly.

Team fees will not otherwise be raised for the 2024 season.

Working with the BBF

There was a productive meeting between members of the BSF Executive and the BBF Board in 2023 and the BSF hopes to continue this in 2024 by setting up a meeting with new BBF President Chris Deacon and other BBF Board members.

During the latter part of 2023, Bristol Softball Association President Neil Butterfield and Coaching Commissioner Mike Hayward from the BBF worked together as part of a group involved in a review of coaching structure and provision carried out by consultants on behalf of BSUK.

BSF Container at Farnham Park

During 2023, lockable shelving units were installed in the BSF container at Farnham Park and contents reorganised, but in many cases, it was unclear who the different equipment and clothing stored in the container belonged to.

BSF President Lesley Morisetti will invite everyone who might have things stored in the container (all three national team programmes, the GBFL, etc) to meet up during the first NSL weekend in May to identify what is theirs. 

Anything not claimed will be binned, and shelving unit sections can then be assigned to specific users, labelled, and locked.

National Softball League

One additional grass field will be available at Farnham Park in 2024 compared to the number available in 2023, and this has allowed BSF Competitions Officer Liz Graham to determine the configuration of National Softball League (NSL) play for the coming season.

NSL1 and NSL2 will operate as normal, with 12 teams in each league, with the top eight teams qualifying for NSL Nationals.

However, four new teams (out of a dozen teams that applied) will join NSL3 in 2024, and NSL3 will be divided into two eight-team divisions based on final placings in 2023. with two new teams added to each division.  Over the three NSL weekends, NSL3 teams will play all other teams in their own division home-and-away, and will play once against teams in the other division. 

The top four teams in each division will qualify for the NSL3 Nationals, the team that wins each division will be promoted to NSL2 for 2025, and the bottom two teams in each division will be relegated out of the NSL structure and replaced in 2025 by four new teams from the waiting list.  Relegated teams can join the waiting list to get back into NSL3 in future.

Finally, the BSF Executive has decided that, starting this season, the team that wins each of the NSL Nationals in September will have its entry fee refunded as a prize.

BSF Development Grant

The Executive has awarded a £500 BSF Development Grant to the GB Under-16 and Under-18 Men’s Team programmes to help set up a series of recruitment events over the next few months in locations around the country to bring new young players into the sport.  A similar recruitment drive at the beginning of 2023 was very successful, and the idea is to keep the momentum going -- not only to increase the number of players available for these teams, but to replace players aging out.

Following the recruitment sessions, players will be invited to join a new junior training and competition programme being set up this year within the Great Britain Fastpitch League (GBFL).

Donated equipment

There was a fair amount of used equipment collected through the Donations Box established outside the BSUK office at Farnham Park last year, but very little of it was of any real use.  Anything that was useful has been taken by GB Under-23 Head Coach Richard Brown to support a softball development project in Zimbabwe that has established links with the GB Men’s programme.

The BSF will advertise again for used equipment at the start of the coming season, but will specify that we only want equipment that is still serviceable.


There was an extended discussion about the Sport:80 membership platform that BSUK has purchased and would like the BSF to use, and on the related topic of mandatory individual player registration.

The British Baseball Federation voted at its AGM last November to adopt the system, and the BBF has always mandated individual player registration.

A remote meeting held on 10 January involving many Softball League Heads plus BSUK and BSF Executive representatives reached a consensus that accepted the idea of mandatory player registration, primarily to help the sport meet government safeguarding requirements, though there was strong pushback against the idea that money should be attached to registration.

However, after a free first year in 2024, the BSF will be asked to pay over £4000 in 2025 and 2026 to share use of the Sport:80 platform, and over £6000 in 2027 and 2028, and there are concerns about whether the cost will be affordable.  Some members of the Executive wondered whether the same objectives could be met with free or cheaper software.

On Sunday, the subject was revisited with representatives from BSUK having joined the meeting, and the BSF Executive made an in-principle decision to mandate individual player registration in 2024, but the decision about adopting Sport:80 will be subject to a demonstration of the software and a chance for further discussion.

A BSF Executive subcommittee consisting of Liz Graham, Stella Ackrell, Pete Saunders, and Alice Hunter has been formed to discuss implementation.

2024 Softball Calendar

Most domestic and international softball events scheduled for 2024 are now on the Events List on the BSF website, with only a few domestic and European events still to come.

Charge to British club teams playing in Europe for umpire travel

The travel costs for British umpires to officiate in Europe has normally been split 50:50 between the BSF and BASU.  But because of rising travel costs, and an increased number of club teams competing in European Cups each year, the BSF has decided that all club teams competing in European Cups from this year onwards will be required to pay £250 towards umpire travel costs.

This amount will be added to the invoice that the BSF sends to club teams for half their tournament entry fee (the BSF pays the other half) and the 100 euro “Organiser Fee” charged by WBSC Europe, which the BSF pays up front.

Rosters for British club teams playing in Europe

Almost all fastpitch club teams playing in European Cups, from whatever country, pick up players from other clubs or other countries to augment their rosters.  But given that the BSF is providing financial support for British club teams to play in Europe, the Executive wants to make sure that it is mostly British players gaining the benefits.

Accordingly, when entry forms for European Cups are circulated in future, there will be a note from the BSF suggesting that players on that club be given first priority for places and that the number of “ringers” brought in is limited.

If future, if problems occur, the BSF may consider imposing a quota system.

Fastpitch umpire development

The BSF is prepared to put some money into fastpitch umpire development to ensure that in future we have enough fastpitch umpires both to fulfil our umpire assignments in Europe and to cover games in what we hope will be a growing Great Britain Fastpitch League (GBFL).

The BSF will ask BASU to create a Fastpitch Qualification Course that can be run in future as required.

BSF finances and fees

BSF Treasurer Laura Burkhardt took the Executive through outcomes from the BSF’s 2022-23 Accounts (which are currently in the hands of the auditors), plus a Budget for 2024 that emerged from a recent Budget Subcommittee meeting.

Although the BSF set a deficit budget for 2022-23, there was underspending or no spending in some categories, and the result was a budget surplus of £4736.  One of the main causes for a more positive result than expected was that the BSF had set aside £3000 in 2022-23 to support the GB Co-ed Slowpitch Team to compete in the WBSC Slowpitch World Cup, which was cancelled just weeks before it was due to be played.

This has left the BSF with almost £44,500 of reserves, which is close to what good governance requires given our annual income.

BSF team affiliation fees were raised in both 2022 and 2023 to help the BSF recover from pandemic losses and deal with high inflation, and underlying fees will not be changed for 2024, apart from the addition of a charge for Personal Accident and Injury insurance, which is now mandatory for all affiliated teams.

For leagues and teams that have taken up this insurance in the past, total costs will not change; leagues and teams taking up this insurance for the first time will see overall costs rise by around £20 per team, with the exact amount still to be determined.

BSF Social Media policy

The BSF Executive has created a new subcommittee, consisting of Stella Ackrell, Jordan Cooper, Jessica Hastings, and Jenny Horton from the BSF Athletes Commission, to look at all aspects of BSF social media operation and policy and to see if anything in the Communications Protocols agreed by the BSF and BSUK in 2021 needs updating.

This group will also look at how, and to what extent, content for the BSF website will be created going forward.


University softball

As part of the effort being mounted to retain more university softball players in the sport after they graduate, BSUK Acting Head of Development Leah Holmes told the meeting that local leagues are now being informed about university softball fixtures in their town or city, which will allow representatives from the league to give university players more information about mainstream softball opportunities.

The question was raised as to whether university competitions could be included in the Events Calendar on the BSF website, and whether a graphic could be created and displayed at the BUCS Softball National Championship in March at Farnham Park showing where softball leagues are located around the country.

The hope is that university students will also be able to gain access to the Teamfinder on the BSUK website through a QR code posted on BSUK social media.

Finally, Leah was asked to investigate whether the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) network would be willing to communicate about softball opportunities.

Report on GB Women’s Olympic prospects and pathway

BSUK Performance Director and Olympic Team Leader Gary Anderson, who leads the GB Fastpitch Women and GB Baseball programmes, gave the BSF Executive an update on the progress of the GB Senior Women’s Team towards the goal of a medal in the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.

Gary highlighted an article that appeared on the WBSC website this past summer suggesting that Great Britain is a rising baseball and softball powerhouse and told the Executive that both teams had met all their milestone targets over the past two years.

As part of the UK Sport LA2028 Investment process, baseball and softball have submitted their Olympic Performance Strategy for due consideration, following Investment Panel meetings with UK Sport.  The submission sets out the vision, mission, and objectives for LA2028 and beyond, and it is clear from both players and coaches that “more time on task” is a key element for the programme to be able to deliver on our objectives. It is anticipated that the timeline for decisions on LA Investment will follow the UK Sport March Board meeting.

Meanwhile, the GB Senior, Under-22, and Under-15 Women’s Teams will all be competing in European Championships this summer and the aim will be to gain as many world ranking points as possible.  The goal for the Senior and Under-22 teams is to medal and for the Under-15s to finish at least sixth.  Gary announced that GB Women’s Team catcher and BSF Hall of Fame member Amy Moore has joined the GB Under-15 staff as the Battery Coach, and the hope is that more older GB players will transition to coaching roles within the programme.

Coach Education review

During the week before the BSF’s face-to-face meeting, BSUK CEO John Boyd had provided a Progress Report to the BSF Executive covering a number of areas of development activity.

One of these was Coach Education, where a review by external consultants has been in progress for a couple of months, monitored by an Advisory Group which includes Bristol Softball Association President Neil Butterfield representing the BSF and Coaching Commissioner Mike Hayward representing the BBF.

John told the meeting that a new framework for Coach Education courses was emerging from the Review, with a basic “How to Coach” module including safeguarding aspects to be followed by the opportunity to complete a series of coaching “badges” covering sport-specific elements in place of attaining general coaching levels.

The new framework will be discussed at the BSUK Coach Summit on 27-28 January, and John will meet with the BSF Executive on 31 January to explain the system further.  It’s hoped that a rollout of courses under the new system can begin sometime in the spring.

BSUK Change Project

BaseballSoftballUK has embarked on a project involving internal reorganisation and changes in the way it will work with the British Softball and Baseball Federations, and this was discussed at some length during the latter part of the meeting.

A document produced by BSUK focuses on 14 areas and proposes that BSUK’s work in these areas will be based on targets and aims agreed with and monitored by Advisory Groups made up of representatives from BSUK and both Federations.  The areas of work are:

  • Coaching
  • Officiating
  • Volunteering
  • Governance
  • Safeguarding
  • Club and player development
  • Events and competition
  • Children and young people development, including universities
  • New communities and opportunities
  • International relations
  • Performance and performance pathway
  • Farnham Park and facilities development
  • Marketing and communications
  • Sponsorship, fundraising, and grants

John Boyd also explained that the former SLA system, whereby the BSF bought hours of work from BSUK in non-development areas, has been abandoned and that BSUK – within its capacity -- will simply provide what the Federation says it needs without any charges attached.

The BSF has been asked to let BSUK know what its needs and priorities are in all of these areas of work, but the meeting agreed that the initial focus should be on events and competitions, children and young people development, Farnham Park and facilities, and marketing and communications.

Next meetings

The BSF Executive’s next monthly videoconference meeting will be held on Monday 5 February.  Anyone on the Executive or in the softball community who wants to bring a topic to the meeting should contact BSF Administrator Bob Fromer (

The BSF will hold two more remote meetings in February: the pre-season League Heads Forum on the evening of Thursday 15 February and the 2024 BSF AGM from 2.00-4.00 pm on Saturday 24 February.