Softball Begins Period of Growth in Middle East
PLANT CITY, FLORIDA -- Softball’s recently launched campaign (Back Softball) for reinstatement onto the Olympic Programme in 2016 received a timely boost when the International Softball Federation’s (ISF) Executive Council today approved Jordan’s application to start a national softball federation.
The Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), headed by HRH Prince Feisal, intends to use softball to introduce more women and youth to team sports in Jordan and provide a model for greater sporting inclusiveness throughout the Middle East. This is in line with the Back Softball “blueprint” launched last month in Europe, which pledges – among other goals – to provide a sporting chance for women throughout the Middle East. Following Sierra Leone having recently been granted provisional membership status, today’s announcement also increases the ISF’s membership up to national softball federations in 130 countries.
Commenting on the news, ISF President Don Porter said, “I applaud the vision and foresight of HRH Prince Feisal to introduce softball to Jordan and hopefully the wider Middle East. Softball is a simple, affordable team sport that can be incorporated into existing facilities. It is always a hit with women and young people, and for many in Jordan this will be their introduction to team sport. I am sure that other countries in the Middle East will be watching with interest.”
The ISF will be sending an operational team to Jordan later this year to assist the JOC in setting up leagues and training coaches & officials. In addition, the ISF will provide start-up equipment and leading coaches will be on-hand to ensure a professional introduction to the sport.
HRH Prince Feisal said, “As part of our long-term strategy at the Jordan Olympic Committee, we are always looking for new ways to introduce young people to, and keep them in sport. I have been impressed with the success of softball in reaching out to young people - especially women. This addition to our portfolio of sports should see a dramatic increase in the number of young women playing team sport. This will send a powerful message to the rest of the Middle East. It is also an important statement before we host the IOC Women in Sport Conference at The Dead Sea in 2008."
Back Softball was launched at the ISF’s VIII Jr. Women’s World Championship (19-and-under, fast pitch) in Enschede, Netherlands, last month, in time for the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala two weeks ago. IOC Members will decide on the sports for the 2016 Olympic Games in a secret ballot at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in October 2009.
The blueprint and more information on the campaign are available at http://www.backsoftball.com/.