Athletes globally picked up bats, balls and gloves, and swung for the fences and the Olympic Games from home backyard pitches, neighbourhood clubhouses, school and community fields and parks, universities and leagues around the world as ‘World Softball Day’ spanned the wide world of sport from Australia and Botswana to Zambia.
Athletes world-wide, of all ages, genders, backgrounds, skills levels, and cultures joined in social, sporting and community celebrations and promoted World Softball Day online and on the field, beginning in the Far East in the Oceania block of nations.
The creation of World Softball Day itself by the world governing body was inspired by the 13 June 1991 announcement by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that women’s softball would debut at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA. World Softball Day also pays tribute to Olympic Day, which is celebrated annually on 23 June.
“World Softball Day is a time of celebration to promote an ideal that anybody in the world can become active in sport,” said WBSC Secretary General Ms. Beng Choo Low, “and that softball can serve as an attractive option as a lifelong sport because it can be enjoyed almost anywhere and by children as young as two years of age to those beyond their eighties.”
World Softball Day was celebrated in countries and cultures across the world as one of the most culturally diverse, adaptable and important sports for providing women and youth with pathways and opportunities to participate in sport.
The annual World Softball Day follows the success of last year’s World Softball Day which generated global attention, activity and events that highlighted the importance of sport in women’s lives in countries across the cultural and political spectrum, including Iran, where officials reported that in an effort to develop interest in softball, players, coaches, association staff and their families, along with other interested people celebrated World Softball Day in several cities, including Tehran, Khormooj, Mashhad and Bandar Abbas.
This includes women in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Iran and other nations where the flexible dress code and non-contact nature of softball make the sport appealing to Muslim women and girls from other diverse backgrounds.
While softball continues to expand in its traditional home base countries, the sport is also growing in skill and popularity in newly emerging softball countries and regions including Europe and Africa, where new facilities have been built in countries like Botswana.
World Softball Day came on the heels of the WBSC formally applying to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic organising committee for baseball and softball to be included as additional sporting events at the Tokyo Games, which, if successful, would significantly increase the profile and participation of women in sport.