2019: Baseball5 - continues to spread like "wildfire"

2019: Baseball5 - continues to spread like "wildfire"
Baseball5 reached 34 new countries in 2019 taking the overall total of participating nations to 69 in less than two years.

“The game may be new, but has caught on like wildfire all over the world,” said WBSC Secretary General Beng Choo Low following a ground breaking year for Baseball5.

Since its inception in 2017 as a youth-focused, urban baseball softball discipline, Baseball5 has enjoyed unprecedented success, not only as a development tool but also as an independent sport with its own competitions and events. It has spread rapidly across the world, with workshops, seminars and tournaments, reaching 34 new countries in 2019 alone, for a total of 69 nations in less than two years.

This year’s headline act was the successful inaugural edition of the WBSC Baseball5 Americas Open, held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia in April. It was the first-ever high-performance Baseball5 official competition hosted by the WBSC, with the participation of five mixed teams from the Americas: Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. The WBSC awarded US$ 8,000 in prize money.

Broadcast rights for the inaugural Baseball5 Americas Open were awarded to CTC Cartagena and with TV stations from Cuba and Venezuela also broadcast the event live. The competition was held on a temporary venue at the iconic beach of Playa Bocagrande, El Bony, with an all-branded urban Baseball5 court made of polypropylene sports flooring.

The WBSC Americas Open was the catalyst for the WBSC’s innovative Game Management System, which was launched in October.

In order to propel the development of Baseball5 in the five continents, the WBSC also organized the WBSC Baseball5 International Certification workshop, held in La Havana, Cuba, in March. A total of 14 participants from all continents gained Baseball5 technical, theoretical and practical knowledge and started to support the WBSC Continental Associations and WBSC members in the development of this new youth-focused urban discipline of the sport.

In addition, WBSC supported local actions in different countries to support the growing of the game. In April, Baseball5 was introduced to China, where 84 coaches from around the country learned the basics of the new discipline. “The event was very successful,” said Chinese Baseball Association Vice Secretary General Ding Feng. “In China, we are now ready to get started with this exciting new sport.” Other countries such as India, Malaysia or Zimbabwe have seen Baseball5 embraced by trainers, players and local organizations.

Other events were organized in the five continents for different age categories and levels, from introductory schools in Australia and Argentina, to university competitions in Zambia, to open championships in Canada, Tunisia, Israel, Thailand, Kosovo and Iran, among others. This trend will continue in 2020, with tournaments announced in every continent.

The very successful year for Baseball5 was best summed up by a inspiring workshop at the III WBSC Congress in Sakai, Japan in November. Four-time Women's Baseball World Champion and MVP from Japan Ayaku Rokkaku has been one of the biggest converts to Baseball5, especially in the role as an instructor, praised the potential of Baseball5, not only to spread the game but also to provide technical skills for baseball softball future players. "I took Baseball5 to an elementary school in Japan and I had enthusiastic feed back. Baseball5 offers a great way to teach inclusion. I also believe, as a player, that Baseball5 offers a very good training opportunity." Cameron Vale, the CEO of Baseball Australia, agreed with Rokkaku. "Baseball5, with the training opportunity it offers in hand-eye coordination, can prepare to many different sports, not only baseball and softball.”

The icing on the cake of an unforgettable 2019 was the announcement of the first-ever WBSC Baseball5 World Cup, to be held in 2020 in Mexico. This is a major step to formally become a global sport, giving the national federations the final goal to continue developing the sport: compete at a global stage, representing their country and playing officially For the Title of World Champion.