Federation Focus: Softball Peru's hosting of U-18 Women's World Cup 'made softball viral in our country'

Federation Focus: Softball Peru's hosting of U-18 Women's World Cup 'made softball viral in our country'
"We now have more tools, we learned a lot about organising an event and are looking forward to the next World Cup in Peru" - Peru Softball Federation President Vanessa Endo (pictured right).

The first edition of the 2022 Federation Focus series is dedicated to the Peruvian Softball Federation (Federación Deportiva Nacional Peruana de Softbol), which hosted the WBSC U-18 Women's Softball World Cup in December last year.

"We are very happy for what we accomplished, both on the field and organizing the event," Softball Peru President Vanessa Endo told the WBSC. Endo, who is also the Secretary-General of WBSC Americas and a member of the Peruvian Olympic Committee, said: "Three years ago, hosting a World Cup looked just like a dream. After discussing it with the Peruvian Sports Institute (Instituto Peruano del Deporte, the government agency in charge of sports development), I said 'let's do it!' to Director Marisa Matsuda"

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- The 2021 Federation Focus series

Matsuda (pictured left in the cover photo) preceded Endo as the Softball Peru president. A former star pitcher, she is currently a member of the WBSC Diversity & Inclusivity Commission and the South American Softball Confederation president.

The Peruvian Softball Federation was founded in 1981, but the last 10 years have been the key to softball development. The turning point came when Lima was picked as the 2019 Pan American Games host.

"We wanted to participate in the Pan Am Games," said Endo. "We started from the U-15 age bracket, and we participated in the first U-15 South American Championship."

The Softball Peru leader said 2019 was a great year for softball development in Peru.

"We participated in the first-ever WBSC U-12 mixed softball World Cup and claimed a silver medal behind the hosts, Chinese Taipei," Endo said. "That team represented the core of the U-15 team that won the South American U-15 Championship."

Peru finished sixth at the U-18 Softball World Cup on home turf at the Villa Maria del Triunfo Sports Complex.

"Medals are the goal when you compete in sports," commented Endo, "but they are not the only way to evaluate an organization. We finished fourth in the U-18 Pan American Games and sixth in the World Cup. That was a great accomplishment and made everyone who works in softball in Peru proud. In particular, it made us aware that the project Softball in Peru, that we started in 2014, is working."

Peru jumped eight places ahead in the WBSC Softball World Rankings at the end of 2021 and is now at No. 22.

Endo said that hosting a World Cup played a key part in Peru's tremendous progress in the world rankings and also the increase in popularity of softball in the country and has left a strong legacy. "The U-18 World Cup made softball viral in Peru," Endo said. "We have girls who start playing softball because they now aim at representing Peru in a World Cup.

"During the World Cup, we had a chance to learn a lot and there's still a lot to do. We are grateful for the intelligence the WBSC staff shared with us. We now have more tools, we learned a lot about organising an event and are looking forward to the next World Cup in Peru. Hopefully, it will be a U-15 Women's Softball World Cup."

Do you think Baseball5 can help develop softball?
"I love the five-on-five version of baseball/softball, and I believe it's a great development tool. Kids have a lot of fun. It's dynamic, easy, doesn't require a lot of space."

What's your relation with the Peruvian Baseball Federation?
"We are different federations, but we walk hand in hand. I have an excellent relationship with President Javier Ramos Diaz and they have always been there when we needed support. For instance, they allowed us to use their fields as warm-up venues during the U-18 World Cup."

Can you tell us more about future development plans?
"In the two years of the pandemic, we had to stop with our Softball Open Days (Semillitas Softboleras, literally Softball Little Seeds) for kids aged 6-12. We count on having them regularly in 2022. We plan to develop also men's softball by 2024.

"We count on the WBSC, as well as the Continental Association, not only to develop players, but also game officials. Any help that can give Peru more chances to compete on the international stage is very welcome."