GABORONE, Botswana — The Japan Softball Association (JSA) distributed thousands of dollars worth of softball equipment to African Baseball Softball Association members in attendance at the recent WBSC World Baseball Softball Congress in Gaborone, Botswana.

JSA President Hiromi Tokuda, WBSC Secretary General Beng Choo Low, ABSA president Saber Jlajla as well as Japanese softball coach and legend/WBSC Executive Board member Taeko Utsugi were all present during the handover.

JSA spread the softball kits among 14 African National Federations in collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). JICA also played a key role in helping to construct the first-ever national baseball stadium in Uganda.

With baseball/softball being the most popular sport in Japan, JICA and other Japanese organisations are leveraging the policy of sport and teachings of baseball/softball to help shape a better society and promote international relations, while sharing an important part of Japanese culture with the world.

There has been a recent wave of development projects to accelerate the growth of baseball and softball in Africa, in such countries as Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda, with embassies, youth and professional leagues, federations and independent volunteer groups all working toward raising the level of and access to baseball/softball across the continent.

Major news outlets have taken note that baseball/softball are beginning to “emerge” in Africa.