by Pim van Nes
This week in Haarlem, Dutch journalists were received in a press conference by World Cup tournament president Peter van der Aart, accompanied by Netherlands national team manager Craig Montvidas and players captain Saskia Kosterink.
With several national and regional newspapers, press agencies and specialised websites already represented in the conference, Mr Van der Aart announced that also 60 foreign media have applied for accreditation for the international tournament and he added that already 11 foreign Ambassadors in the Netherlands did accept his invitation to attend a game. “Most of them are ready to act in the traditional first pitch ceremony, but some of them regretted for this throwing performance”, Van der Aart specified.
This high diplomatic interest in the sports event is considered significant during this summer of international turmoil. Several of the sixteen nations, delegating their best softball women to Haarlem, are involved in a sudden or older conflict. Earlier “baseball diplomacy” played an important role in peace keeping between countries, but in 2014 softball women from across the world may be helpful with their “sisternity” instead of fraternity.
During ten days five continents and sixteen countries meet in a one city and a one ballpark tournament. Africa with Botswana, Oceania with Australia and New Zealand, Asia with Japan, China and Chinese Taipei, Europe with Russia, Czech Republic, Great Britain, Italy and the Netherlands, the Americas with Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, USA and Canada complete the schedule for the Olympia arena in Haarlem, with hotels at 5 minutes walking or 5 minutes driving from the two backstops. “This is a players tournament, which means competition on the fields, not in transporting teams from game to game”, Van der Aart explained.
The facilities of the down town sports complex run by Hoofdklasse club Olympia are upgraded for this event, in order the games can be attended by approximately 3500 fans. One game per team every day. Two round robin tournaments for 8 teams each will take off on Friday as from 09.30 h Central European Time: Chinese Taipei vs Australia and 11.15 h: Japan vs China. Opening ceremony before the first night game of the tournament: USA vs Netherlands at 20.00 h (CET).