The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Athletes Commission — co-chaired by former Aussie MLB and NPB player Justin Huber and Venezuelan softball star/Olympian Maria Soto — recently met in Rome, outlining and expanding the roles, scope and duties of the commission.
The WBSC Athletes Commission aims to represent the best interests and voice of baseball and softball players at the executive level of the world governing body. As a professional-based sport, players are traditionally/domestically represented by unions and agents.
It was also confirmed that the WBSC Athletes Commission will attend International Olympic Committee (IOC) International Athletes’ Forum in April in Lausanne, Switzerland. It is set to be the largest ever contingent of international athlete representatives.
The new direction could mean the commission’s presence at Baseball and Softball World Cups and/or other WBSC-sanctioned competitions, events and meetings, in order to provide relevant input and share the athletes’ perspective, so that it is taken into consideration when decisions — which might directly impact ballplayers — are made by the executive board, commissions or other WBSC entities.
Another recommendation put forth is to add athlete representatives to the Continental Confederations’ Board of Directors.
A longer-term goal would be providing career pathways for athletes transitioning off the field.
The main role of the Commission Members at WBSC events will be of guidance for the competing athletes. The goal is to have a Safeguarding Officer on duty and Commission members will have to be trained to perform the duty.
Additionally, the commission will oversee Educational programmes and materials covering pertinent topics and issues relating to baseball and softball players.
The Commission will work to improve communications both within the commission and across the athletes-network. The commission is evaluating different platforms and languages that could support this strategic plan.
The WBSC Athletes Commission will be guided by the model of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, where the athlete is front and centre of the Olympic Movement.
“I’m very excited with the outcomes from the meetings in Rome,” commen ted co-Chairman Justin Huber “We have a great team and the support we have received from the executive, shows just how committed the organisation is to giving the athletes a voice at the decision making level. I am really looking forward to the critical months ahead in this important movement.”
In addition to the co-chairs, the WBSC Athletes Commission meeting in Rome was attended by Erika Polidori (Canada, Women’s Softball representative) and Pauline Prade (France, Women’s softball player). Ashley Stephenson (Women’s Baseball representative) was absent due to illness. WBSC Secretary General Beng Choo Low and Executive Director Michael Schmidt also participated.
The WBSC Athletes Commission is scheduled to meet in the coming weeks via conference call.
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