Stan Doney writes:
Every now and then I’ll surf softball on the internet for fun. It’s how I came across my BSUK job in 2008.
In 2010, I was looking through previous GB Softball results on the European Softball Federation website and I noticed that GB used to send Junior (Under-19) Men's Teams to the European Championships. From memory, the last one was in 2004.
That's when the thought first crossed my mind. Who are these guys that played in 2004? Where are they now? Were they those Pioneers guys? The Nottingham lads? I wasn’t sure....
I had read and heard a lot of complaints from young players in the slowpitch community about the lack of playing opportunities in Europe. Problem was, there are no European Junior Slowpitch Championships, only fastpitch. So I thought one way I could help was to restart a GB Junior Men's Fastpitch Team and give the young slowpitch players a chance to test themselves and see just how good they really are (or think they are).
I know a few guys here.... Kids in Fakenham, Norfolk had already been playing for a few years. I knew of a couple of guys playing for NSL teams. I'd recently met two young guys who started playing in the newly-formed Brighton and Hove League. I received a email from Newbury about a couple of good players from that region.
I put out the word, and all of a sudden I had 12 players showing up to winter training. I asked if they were dedicated, they said yes, and that was it.
So I took it up on myself to train a group of guys in the art of fastpitch, and now Great Britain is sending a team to the 2011 European Junior Men's Championships. Simple!
And here they are -- the players who will be in Kostelec nad Orlici in the Czech Republic this summer, competing against the Czechs, the Danes, Croatia and Israel from July 11-16:
Hopefully, we will see a lot of these homegrown players in the GB Men's Team next year and in the future.
A strand of softball that appeared to be dying out in the UK has suddenly received a big new lease of life!