Federation Focus: Guatemalan Softball finding place on global stage behind ASOSOFT

Federation Focus: Guatemalan Softball finding place on global stage behind ASOSOFT
30/03/2020
Guatemalan softball is on a roll having competed in back-to-back WBSC men's junior world championships while in 2020, the Central American country had their highest-ever finish on the global stage, placing sixth at the WBSC Men's U-18 Softball World Cup.

Softball in Guatemala -- behind the Asociación de Softbol de Guatemala (ASOSOFT) and President Hector Sazo -- has made exceptional progress on and off the field in recent years, becoming one of the hot spots of softball activity in the Americas.

ASOSOFT has hosted continental competitions and started to make an impact on the softball world, especially in the men's domain.

Among all governmental institutions and 48 sporting bodies in Guatemala, ASOSOFT was rated as the most transparent sports organization in the country and 10th overall.

Historic Rise of Guatemalan Softball

Softball arrived in Guatemala in 1933 when US Marines started playing against Guatemalan citizens that had travelled to the US. However, the first organized tournament in the country had to wait until 1935, with the participation of six teams.

The game was boosted following the end of World War II. In 1950, Guatemala organized the VI Central American and Caribbean Games, where softball was supposed to be an exhibition sport. The first-ever Guatemala National Softball Team was put together for this event, but they never took the field because of the lack of participating countries. 

Guatemala played internationally for the first time in 1973, claiming a silver medal at the inaugural Central American Games hosted on home soil in Guatemala City.

After decades of participation at the regional and continental level, Guatemala finally made its debut on the global stage in 2015 in Saskatoon, Canada, at the WBSC Men’s Softball World Championship. They were invited to play as a guest team.

Now, under the leadership of President Sazo, Guatemalan softball, especially in men’s disciplines, is taking historic steps forward. Guatemalan softball teams have competed in back-to-back WBSC men's junior world championships. In 2020, the Central American country had their highest-ever finish on the global stage, placing sixth at the WBSC Men's U-18 Softball World Cup.

“For years, we’ve been trying to catch the powerhouses of our continent, but we understood that we must take a long-term approach,” said Sazo. “It’s part of a systematization process, from the initiation at the school through the international level, with clinical and technical information of each player.

"We’re trying to introduce our players to the international game at early ages. Our goal is to participate in international tournaments, competing with leading countries in each category”.


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The development program, called “Softbol para todos” (Softball for All) includes initiation activities at school level, and then following the young athletes throughout the higher levels until the national teams. The process begins at age of 8-12 and includes a comprehensive athlete development program including formal education, scholarships and the improvement of the decision making process and the specific softball skills. ASOSOFT has also developed and implemented an athlete selection process to establish general principles that are applicable to all national teams.

Guatemala hosted the 2019 U-17 Men’s Softball Pan American Championship, where they scored a victory over USA and finished in fourth-place to advance to the 2020 WBSC Men's U-18 Softball World Cup -- marking the first time Guatemala ever officially qualified for a world championship in softball.

“It’s crucial to host international events in our country," said Sazo. “For us, it was amazing to see our stadiums fully packed and the reactions in the media and social media. It was great.”

As part of the nation's growth strategy, ASOSOFT will host the U-17 Women’s Pan American Championship.