The European Softball Federation (ESF) will hold its annual Congress on Saturday, February 4 during the ESF-CEB Congress in Belgrade, Serbia. After two four-year terms Andre van Overbeek’s time as ESF President concludes and a new ESF President will be elected. Only candidate is Gabriel Waage from the Czech Republic, a current vice president and the head of the Technical Commission of the ESF. The European Softball Federation published an interview this week with the designated new ESF President Gabriel Waage:
Q: Why have you decided to run for the position of the ESF president?
A: Because I believe that the path we’ve taken and which we’re working on currently is the right one for softball’s future, and I want to make sure to continue the efforts we’ve already put in.
Q: Can you describe the path?
A: The ESF needs to be a strong and confident Federation with a clear goal.
We want to establish a reasonable competitions structure, which will offer everything any National Federation may need for their development and level.
We want to be the organization, which is always ready to help our affiliated federations with whatever they seek. We always need to be here for them.
We must become even stronger when it comes to promotion of softball as a sport. We need to make our sport more visible, we need to make people take notice of softball. That’s why we focus on live streaming and media coverage in general.
Q: Are there any major changes you have on your mind for the near future?
A: I want the ESF to become a strong brand, which everybody wants to be a part of.
The ESF needs to uplift its marketing efforts. We need to set a goal together with specific steps which have to be taken to reach that goal. That is going to be my number one effort.
Next, I’d like to start a few Europe-overlapping projects, such as Team Europe vs. World Champions. These types of projects have the potential to attract attention of the general European public. We can use such events to strengthen European Softball as a brand.
Q: How would you like to approach softball development in Europe?
A: The ultimate goal should be the professionalization of National Federations – full-time positions in National Federations are the right future for softball expansion.
I also believe that the time is about right for the ESF to establish a full-time development position – to have a person, who would be responsible for running development projects. The ESF has lately kicked off a number of promising projects. The establishment of such a position would help maintain and speed up the progress of these projects.
One of my goals is to make National Federations understand, that success in senior categories is directly connected to activity in youth categories. When a federation sends its youth national teams to our championships regularly, that’s when I know, they’re being serious about softball. Federations need to realize the importance of youth softball and their attendance at youth championships must become standard, not occasional.