By BaseballSoftballUK, www.baseballsoftballuk.com
BaseballSoftballUK, the development agency for the British Baseball and British Softball Federations, has announced the largest increase in participation to date, putting the number of people playing the sports at an all-time high.
As of 31 March 2016, the number of people playing baseball and softball in the UK had reached 22,274, climbing by a little over 3,300 during the previous 12 months.
BSUK Joint CEO and Head of Development John Boyd said, “These results are very encouraging. They reflect what we already knew – that 2015/16 would be our best year yet for growth. At the start of this year, we launched Hit the Pitch, our new participation programme, and this gave us a real boost, allowing us to reach more people more easily. We are a small staff trying to achieve a great deal, and we found that Hit the Pitch made our work easier and quicker – essentially, it has made us even more effective.”
Like all other Sport England and Lottery-funded sports organisations, BaseballSoftballUK has targets against which national investment is measured. The organisation is on track to not only exceed our targets for 2015-16, but reach our 2016-17 target early this summer, nine months ahead of schedule.
John Boyd said: “We are just 1,250 off our four-year Sport England target of 23,565. This is very encouraging, particularly when we have such strong projects in the pipeline for the coming season.”
Recently, Sport England has switched to a payment-by-results approach that seeks to address underperformance by National Governing Bodies through reducing grants. Performance results for baseball and softball were considered at a formal review meeting with Sport England in January 2016 and BSUK was given the all-clear for being on track.
According to John Boyd: “Having an unblemished record of delivery against our targets is really important, now more than ever. This year, organisations will be applying to Sport England for the next four years of funding and it is clear that grant awards will be based on capability and track record.”
Growth in numbers
Here are the basic numbers behind the growth in people playing baseball and softball.
- Since the 2008 season, numbers have increased by 11,887 players and 709 teams.
- Since the start of the current Sport England funding cycle in April 2013, 5,641 new players have started playing in 340 more teams.
- Slowpitch softball represents 80% of this growth, fastpitch softball 4% and baseball 16%.
Participation percentages across the three formats are:
- Slowpitch softball: 80%
- Baseball: 18%
- Fastpitch Softball: 2%