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Sep '13 04

Countdown to IOC Vote: Taking It To The Streets – Baseball-Softball Begin New Era of Urban Sport for Youth in Europe

News - Dutch Baseball Leagues, News - Dutch National Teams, News - Dutch Softball Leagues, Olympics Comments Off on Countdown to IOC Vote: Taking It To The Streets – Baseball-Softball Begin New Era of Urban Sport for Youth in Europe

Press Release World Baseball Softball Confederation, www.wbsc.co

The First Street Baseball/Softball court successfully trialed in Netherlands and confirms the unique strengths of the sports for youth and growth in Europe.

LAUSANNE (SUI) – World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) officials have confirmed that the first-ever street baseball/softball diamond has been successfully developed and tested in Rotterdam, Netherlands, which could herald a revolution in sports participation.

The new street diamond opens up new opportunities to take the sports to young people in non-traditional settings, and has significant potential to boost the growth of baseball and softball in Europe.

The innovative “urban” concept also further highlights the bat-and-ball sports’ ability to deliver a sport to the Olympic Movement that continues to evolve and connect with millions of young people everywhere, and with today’s youth culture.

The street project also shows the significant value baseball and softball will bring to the Olympic Movement to progress the Sport For All initiative to help better shape society through sport by having the bat-and-ball sport under the Olympic umbrella and working in cooperation with the IOC and Olympic Family.

The new urban playing field was opened recently in Rotterdam in a venture involving the Royal Dutch Baseball and Softball Association (KNBSB), the Baseball Tomorrow Fund (an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association) and Rotterdam United Baseball.

With the proper long-term support and planning, officials believe this pioneering project could be replicated in other cities around Holland, Europe, and internationally.

This innovative approach of creating a street playground for baseball and softball with playing equipment including bats and gloves, could be adapted for other sports and herald a new era in making sport more accessible to young people.

“Baseball and softball are now reaching the streets and becoming even more open to young people of all backgrounds, abilities, lifestyles and cultures,” said Riccardo Fraccari and Don Porter, co-Presidents of the WBSC, which is leading the campaign to have softball and baseball included at the 2020 Olympic Games.

“This feels like the dawn of a new era in sport.

“Thanks to the new street Diamond concept, baseball and softball can help to develop the European youth sports market, reaching out to young people in urban settings and neighbourhoods as well in clubs and other traditional environments,” the co-Presidents said.

“Taking the game to the streets is an important new platform for the future of youth in our sports. You need to create structures for sport that can be located where young people spend their time and like to be, and these kinds of fields are innovative and open to everybody. Playing equipment will be available and this will show how simple it is to start playing baseball and softball.”

Former Major League player with the New York Yankees, Robert Eenhoorn, said: “I believe that if you will grow as a sport, your game has to be played in the street. There are still kids, who don’t have the possibility to attend a club, due to various reasons. This field will be there for everybody. The equipment is at the field and we will organize a practice every week and we will host a street baseball tournament each year. This way baseball will be played by more kids and the game will be visible to everybody.”

Jason Holowaty of Major League Baseball Europe said: “The Rotterdam United project is an exciting new initiative and is unique in European baseball. It allows the Dutch federation to reach new ballplayers and bring the game to urban areas that don’t traditionally have access to good baseball fields.”

If included in the Olympic Games and with increasingly more tools available to the bat-and-ball sport, such as the Rotterdam project, WBSC officials are confident that baseball and softball will add to their multi-million athlete youth base and will drive those who play or follow baseball/softball to also follow and support the Olympic Games, which will help bring in new generations of athletes, more young people, cultures, audiences, followers, sponsor and broadcast interest to the Olympic Movement leading to 2020 and beyond.

The IOC vote to bring another sport onto the sports programme for the 2020 Games will take place at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires on 8 September.

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