by European Softball Federation, www.europeansoftball.org
A tournament that was born four years ago as a fancy ending to an international Czech-Danish-Croatian training camp hosts today 24 teams from four countries. Mike Stapleton Memorial, the only youth men’s softball international tournament in Europe will be played in three ballparks, three categories, in May 10 – 12.
The fourth edition of this softball international tournament for boys will consist of teams from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel, and New Zealand. A usual attendee from Croatia stays at home this year. But on the other hand, Danish and Israeli are coming with many more players than in previous editions. The tournament will be huge. Teams are divided into three categories: U13, U16, and U19.
“When we started this tournament four years ago, there were only four U13 and four U16 teams. It was more of a fancy ending to the training camp that we held at our field. Two years later, a team from New Zealand showed interest. They are here this year for the second time already. We would love to host also one more team from some of the top softball countries such as Argentina, Japan, or Canada. We are trying to see how to expand this event even more as we had to refuse a few teams this year. Sadly, we couldn’t handle any bigger numbers,” says Ondrej Stroner, the founder of Mike Stapleton Memorial (formerly known as Joudrs International Cup).
The existence of the U-16 Men’s European Championship is based on this event. This event is also important for Czech Softball as a symbol of men’s softball history. Mike Stapleton led the Czechs to their first European title ever (1997). Under his leadership, they also seized the 6th place at the Men’s Worlds in 2000. Mike completely reformed Czech men’s fastpitch in the 90s and if there wasn’t for him, the Czech would not be where they are today.
Follow the event via Mike Stapleton Memorial Facebook page.