#WorldRefugeeDay: Baseball-softball look to make a difference in the global refugee crisis

#WorldRefugeeDay: Baseball-softball look to make a difference in the global refugee crisis
WBSC Baseball5 introduction courses, as per the picture above, in Zaatari, the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, help make a big difference to lives around the world.

On World Refugee Day, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) stands together in support of all refugees around the world and reiterates its commitment to using the unique power of baseball-softball -- and sport -- to foster social cohesion and boost the mental and physical wellbeing of the displaced.

As a proud member of the UNHCR and International Olympic Committee (IOC) “Sports Coalition”, the WBSC has made pledges to improve the accessibility of baseball and softball to refugees.

And in order to uphold that commitment, the WBSC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with World Taekwondo (WT) and the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) in March this year. The MOU seeks to promote humanitarian-, social inclusion-, peace- and development-supporting activities.

As part of the agreement, the WBSC, WT and THF will carry out common projects with the aim of advancing youth and social inclusion through the organisation of sport, sporting events and other related activities.

Furthermore, the WBSC has been using its new fast-paced, low-cost discipline, Baseball5 to take the game to places where accessibility to sport is desperately needed. This includes in Zaatari, the world’s largest camp for Syrian refugees, where in February 2019, the WBSC worked with Peace and Sport to bring Baseball5 to the camp.

The partnership with Peace and Sport saw the WBSC run a two-day coaching workshop at Zaatari, with coaches then introducing Baseball5 to many of the 80,000 refugees living in the camp. The WBSC also donated all of the equipment used to run the programme.

In addition to supporting refugees, the WBSC has also committed resources to helping others affected by conflict. One such example is in Palestine where the WBSC donated starter kits to local coaches who have used the equipment to run local baseball and softball leagues for children living in the Gaza strip.

And in 2017 and 2018, the WBSC brought Baseball5 to the Friendship Games in Bujumbura, Burundi. These annual Games have been organised by Peace and Sport in the Great Lakes region of Africa since 2007, bringing together up to 200 children from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, to promote peace through sport.

Reflecting on World Refugee Day, WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said:

“Whilst we have all been affected by COVID-19, the biggest health crisis in a generation, it’s important that we take time, on World Refugee Day, to think about and honour the millions of refugees around the world.

“We should draw inspiration from their courage and resilience. Many of them have been fighting on the frontlines as doctors, nurses and in other key worker roles during the pandemic.

“But refugees are also at greater risk from a growing global poverty pandemic. We must all do more to help them overcome the hardships they face.

“I urge the sporting and global baseball-softball community to come together to help refugees. Every action, whether big or small, counts. We must make sure we form part of the collective global effort to create a more just, inclusive, and equal society.”