Fukushima, Japan; 12 August 2019: The World Baseball Softball Confederation today announced a partnership with schools in Fukushima, Japan, to collect baseball and softball equipment and deliver it to developing baseball-softball nations worldwide.
In the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011, the WBSC initiated a programme to help support the recovery of the Fukushima Prefecture through sport, donating baseball-softball equipment and helping to repair and upgrade local sports facilities. In 2016 the WBSC hosted in Iwaki, in the Fukushima prefecture, the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup and now less than one year before baseball-softball makes its Olympic return at Tokyo 2020 with opening matches in Fukushima Azuma Stadium, that recovery programme is set to benefit communities around the world.
Touched by the support of the global baseball-softball community, students and teachers have started working with the WBSC to collect excess baseball-softball equipment and donate it to programmes in Africa, Asia and Europe. The WBSC is sending balls, bats, cleats, uniforms, caps and gloves collected at schools in Fukushima to countries working to grow baseball-softball, including Kenya, Zambia, Palestine and Kosovo. As well as delivering equipment, the WBSC will also be hosting clinics in those countries for young players, coaches and administrators to help support the sustainable growth of the game.
World Baseball Softball Confederation President Riccardo Fraccari said:
“The global baseball-softball community is a worldwide family that is growing all the time. The young people of Fukushima have shown incredible resilience and community spirit in the face of unimaginable adversity; now their enthusiasm for helping others in need is an inspiration to us all. The WBSC’s new initiative with Fukushima schools lays the ground-work for life-changing opportunities for boys and girls to enjoy sport.”
“We are humbled and honoured that our sport will be making its Tokyo 2020 Olympic comeback in a city that embodies more than any other sport’s power to unite and rebuild communities.”
August 12 is the UN International Youth Day since 1999 and serves as an annual celebration of the role of young women and men as essential partners in change, and an opportunity to raise awareness of challenges and problems facing the world’s youth.
Some baseball and softball equipment has already been distributed to Kenya and Zambia where both countries hosted WBSC administrator clinics. More distribution will follow across Africa as well as in west Asia and developing countries in Europe.