Softball: IGETS (Inclusion & Gender Equality Through Softball) soars with Olympia Haarlem

Thursday, June 1, 2017, 16:04

The 2nd transnational meeting for the three clubs participating in the Erasmus+ Sports project, Inclusion & Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS), was held between the 10th and 14th of May in Haarlem, the Netherlands. It was an activity-filled four days for the officials of Princ Zagreb, Ghajnsielem Redcoats and Olympia Haarlem. There were several capacity-building sessions for the softball coaches of the three clubs, meetings to share best practices in club management, as well as a multisport open day for the children who live in the neighbourhood of the club to promote inclusion. The last activity was a doubleheader between the best two softball teams in the Dutch Golden League, which Olympia Haarlem swept to maintain a perfect start to their season.

One of the biggest challenges for amateur sports clubs around Europe is the administration of their organisation. The three partner clubs set as one of the objectives for IGETS to strengthen their respective executive committees. During the meetings in Haarlem the clubs identified weaknesses and sought options how these could be addressed. A common issue for the three partners is the lack of volunteers willing to commit themselves to help out especially in the management of the club. The need for adequate softball facilities to practice and play the game was cited as the most pressing issue for the Redcoats. Whereas for Olympia the rising costs associated with the running of their club is proving to be the biggest challenge going forward.

Stanley Doney, the head coach of the senior softball team of Olympia Haarlem gave the three partners some insight into his coaching methods. Coach Doney introduced several softball drills which the coaches can adopt to add fun and variety to their sessions. Eva Voortman, the star pitcher of Olympia and the Dutch national team, described how she changed her style of pitching and improved her game, throwing much harder and more accurately. She demonstrated several drills that can be used to help improve the throwing speed as well as the mechanics, especially for young softball pitchers. She also went over the various grips of her pitches, including fastball, change-up, curve ball, drop ball and riser.

During the first five months of the implementation of IGETS, the main focus was capacity building for the three partner organisations. The 2 nd phase involves using the knowledge gained to improve the skills of the youth players of the three clubs. There are plans for a mentoring program to start in each club whereby players from the senior team will mentor a player of the youth teams. This will encourage volunteering while at the same time help the athletic development of the younger players. There will also be a push to address the other important objectives of the project, such as inclusion, tackling the lack of media coverage of female athletes, and efforts to increase awareness about gender inequality in sports and efforts to try to reduce it.

The successful implementation of the 1 st phase of the IGETS project gives the three partners much confidence going forward. The knowledge gained from this experience will be passed on to other softball clubs from all over Europe so that they too would be able to learn from the results of this project and discover how they too could benefit from EU programmes such as Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships. IGETS is a very ambitious project. The determination of the three partners to make it succeed will ensure that the objectives set will be achieved.

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