The Global Game Podcast: Men's Softball World Cup on home soil "the pinnacle" - New Zealand Black Sox Head Coach Mark Sorenson

The Global Game Podcast: Men's Softball World Cup on home soil "the pinnacle" - New Zealand Black Sox Head Coach Mark Sorenson
Sorenson, 55, has won three World Championship titles as skipper of the Black Sox in 1996, 2000 and 2004 as well as one as coach in 2017.

With just over one week to go until the start of the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand, Black Sox head coach Mark Sorenson joined the WBSC podcast The Global Game and explained how important home advantage is as New Zealand searches for an eighth World Championship title, the most of any nation.

“I think it’s the pinnacle," said Sorenson, who claimed his third World Championship title as New Zealand skipper in Christchurch in 2004 and also won the 2017 title in Canada as coach. "I remember back in 2004 how it really took our country along on a journey. If you win overseas, you become a topic for about a week, and normally it’s in our winter months, when rugby is being played, which is the biggest sport. 

“So the good thing is [this World Cup] is happening in summer, it’s here, it’s in our ball season and it gives the whole softball and public an opportunity to get on behind it. I know a lot of people that are planning their summer holidays around coming to Auckland and going to Rosedale for that week. They want to make sure they will be there because once they were there in 2004, it was a fantastic experience.” 

New Zealand skipper Cole Evans has similarly been talking up the home crowd advantage and embracing any local pressures. "Softball supporters are some of the best in the world, especially in New Zealand,” he said.

New Zealand has hosted the Men’s Softball World Cup three times and finished top of the podium each time - Auckland 2013, Christchurch 2004 and Lower Hutt 1976 (declared joint winners with Canada and USA due to bad weather).

With one week to go until Opening Day Rosedale Park on 26 November, Sorenson's team are preparing for the World Cup with an Invitational International Series in Palmerston North. It will be the first time New Zealand has played against international opposition since a disappointing campaign in the last WBSC Men's Softball World Cup in Prague, Czech Republic where the Black Sox finished fourth.

It was the first time in 39 years that the Black Sox - who have collected the most number of Men's Softball World Cup medals (13 - seven gold, four silver and two bronze) along side Canada as the most successful nations - finished off the podium. For Sorenson it was a huge learning opportunity.

“You often learn more from failure than you do from suceed, and that’s because you look deeper,” he reflected. “It forces you to put back some extra layers that you know are gonna hurt to go under, but you got to go down there, you got to expose a level of vulnerability. Because what you’re gonna learn might not be something that sits well in the end.”

Sorenson said that the responsibility for the final outcome in Prague was on himself. “I’ve always thought that a group is responsible of a failure in a game, but a head coach is responsible for the failure in a campaign. So the failure at 2019 campaign is a feeling that’s really on me.”