ZAATARI, Jordan — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today completed a two-day coaching workshop in Jordan aimed at introducing Baseball5 to Zaatari, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) run world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, as part of the partnership developed with the organisation Peace and Sport.

The workshop, which ran from 23-24 January in one of UNHCR community centres in the camp, aimed to teach the basics of Baseball5 to more than thirty local coaches, teachers and project coordinators working at the camp. In the coming weeks, coaches will begin introducing WBSC’s new low-cost and youth-focused discipline to many of the 80,000 refugees living in the densely populated UNHCR run camp. All of the equipment required for the Baseball5 programme is being donated by WBSC.

For the first time in the history of the sport activities in the camp, Baseball5 allowed men and women, and boys and girls to play together in mixed teams. Baseball5 is easily accessible. Through the urban version of baseball-softball WBSC has thus created a level playing field for both genders to enjoy and access together health benefits and social values of team sport.

During the workshop WBSC organised a number of exhibition games between coaches on the first day and young refugees on the second. Games were held simultaneously on six Baseball5 fields drawn with white sand from the participants. All the coaches were awarded certificates at the end of the matches and are looking to organize weekly Baseball5 training sessions. WBSC hopes that Baseball5 will find continuity in the camp and that it will help to improve everyday life of the Syrian refugees.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said: “Baseball5 has increased WBSC’s ability to harness the power of sport and do good around the world. Baseball5 only needs a ball and a flat surface. It’s low-cost and accessible, and allows us to have a positive impact on communities that can tremendously benefit from access to sport.

“I want to thank Peace and Sport, the Jordanian Olympic Committee the United Nations Agencies and all the other NGOs for helping us to deliver this important programme at the Zaatari camp. The chance to play sport will have a positive impact on the lives of children living in this difficult situation, and I hope our work at Zaatari can be a model for similar programmes in under-served communities around the world.”

Peace and Sport President and Founder Joel Bouzou said: “Since 2017 Peace and Sport has been promoting sport for social cohesion through the ‘Live Together’ program in Zaatari Refugee camp. So, it was obvious to us to partner with WBSC and bring Baseball5 to the camp, a simple, cheap and accessible sport that can be easily played by young refugees and create positive social change.”

Baseball5 the urban version of baseball/softball launched by the WBSC in 2018 has generated immense interest around the globe. The WBSC is currently working on an international competition calendar and considering the features of the game it is not hard to imagine the potential participation of a refugee team in one of the upcoming international events.

UNHCR spokesperson said: “We are happy to work in collaboration with Peace and Sport and the World Baseball Softball Confederation to introduce a new sport to the refugees. There are several sport fields in the camp providing different opportunities to the refugees aiming to promote peace and gender equality through sport”.