By Baseball Softball UK, www.baseballsoftballuk.com
The newly-established Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Club (FPBSC), formerly Chalfont Softball Club, is looking forward to laying the foundations during the 2015 season to become the UK’s first “Super Club”, encompassing all three formats of baseball plus slowpitch and fastpitch softball.
The FPBSC has built on the success and sound governance established during its Chalfont days to provide a club structure that will enable rapid growth and expansion in all three formats. During the closed season, the club has worked closely with BSUK’s development staff to write a vision document for the next 10 years.
According to this vision document, the club will have created the following by 2024:
- A four-tier adult baseball programme with teams playing at every level of BBF-sanctioned competition, including the National Baseball League.
- Five adult women’s fastpitch teams competing at various levels within BSF-sanctioned competition.
- Five adult slowpitch teams playing in the Windsor and Maidenhead District Mixed Softball League (the club currently has three).
- Local Little Leagues for baseball and fastpitch softball at Under-17, Under-15, Under-13 and Under-12 age groups.
An expansive community outreach programme that will include corporate softball and local schools, colleges and universities, as well as providing opportunities for participants with physical and learning disabilities.
FPBSC Chairman Chris Yoxall said: “We are really excited about our vision for the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Club. To think we started as just a small softball club back in 2004, and now we have a plan in place to become one of the top clubs in Great Britain. But while we are excited about realising our vision by 2024, there is a lot to do and we have a number of key projects to deliver this summer. Having BSUK on board as partners in this endeavour is a tremendous opportunity and will be crucial to our success.”
2015 development plans
The 2015 season will be an exciting and busy time at Farnham Park. In addition to an already-packed schedule that includes a slate of softball tournaments, baseball events and the Great Britain Fastpitch League, the summer will be full of development activity run by FPBSC to take the first steps towards their 2024 vision.
BSUK National Development Manager Will Lintern said: “BaseballSoftballUK, who built Farnham Park with support from Sport England and Major League Baseball’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund, has a vested interest in seeing the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Club succeed and grow baseball and softball in the region.
“Farnham Park was built to encourage new participation,” Will added. “A facility of this calibre only serves its purpose if it inspires a new generation of players to pick up a bat and glove and start to play baseball and softball for the first time.”
To make sure the club’s vision gets off the right start, BSUK will be providing an enhanced level of development support to FPBSC now and in the future. This support will range from capacity-building within the club’s coaching workforce to supporting development grant applications, continuing to upgrade the facilities at Farnham Park and supporting delivery on site where club capacity can’t cope with the demand.
The main projects planned for 2015 include PlayBall! – Major League Baseball’s programme for starting a local youth league for boys and girls aged 9-13 — plus Hit the Pitch initiatives that will include new participation programmes for:
- Adult Baseball – with a view to entering a team into the BBF’s Single-A division in 2016.
- The SEGRO Softball League – a workplace slowpitch softball league for businesses who trade on the Slough Industrial Estate.
- Girls’ fastpitch softball.
- Schools programmes to include the Buckinghamshire Sainsbury’s School Games and the Farnham Park School Softball Series.
- Beep Ball – modified baseball and softball for visually-impaired participants.
Patrick Knock, BSUK’s Development Manager for the South East, said: “I’m excited about working closely with FPBSC to make sure we fully utilise the iconic Farnham Park facility to grow the number of people playing baseball and softball in the UK. We have a clear vision in place and an enthusiastic and well-run club who are keen to work with us, starting this summer with a wide range of new programmes both on site and out in the community.
“This is the first step,” Patrick added, “to becoming a much larger club, with more and more playing opportunities for men, women, boys and girls.”