WBSC President Fraccari: Baseball-softball must play its role in building back a better world through sport

WBSC President Fraccari: Baseball-softball must play its role in building back a better world through sport
In celebration of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari reiterates the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s (WBSC) commitment to using baseball-softball, and Baseball5 in particular, to help build a fairer, more resilient and equitable world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in ways which we could not have previously imagined. We have now spent more than year living with restrictions that have made it difficult for us to play sport in groups or cheer on our favourite team. We have all worried about vulnerable loved ones, many of whom we have not seen for extended periods of time.

However, thanks to the wonders of science and resilience of the human spirit, we can now start to look forward to once again enjoying social activities which we previously took for granted.

More importantly, we are now presented with a unique opportunity to build back a fairer and more resilient world and I therefore urge the global baseball-softball community in joining the WBSC by committing to using our beloved sport to achieve this global ambition.

In accordance with the United Nations, we can recognize the role that sport and physical activity plays in communities and in people’s lives across the world. As we all know, baseball-softball and other team sports are uniquely placed to promote social cohesion, teambuilding, equality and inclusion. As a result, we must all ensure that sport plays a vital role in supporting global recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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It is therefore important that our community continues to seek out, support and promote initiatives that make baseball-softball more accessible across all sectors of society.

We know our sport, and particularly Baseball5, can be a very useful tool for promoting peace and development through sport.

That is why, in March 2021, the WBSC joined the Olympic Refuge Foundation's Community (ORF) of Practice where we will use Baseball5 to contribute to the organisation’s goals. These include:

  • Creating safe, basic and accessible sports facilities in areas where there are refugees, a displaced migrant population or internally displaced people, where all children and young people can play sport and take advantage of sport’s multiple benefits;
  • Develop sporting activities that can be successfully implemented within these safe environments; and
  • Provide access to safe sport for one million young people affected by displacement by 2024.

We have already been taking our newest and most accessible discipline 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.

In 2017 and 2018, the WBSC also 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.

And with Baseball5 now set to take part in the next edition of the Youth Olympic Games in Dakar, I am even more optimistic about the WBSC’s ability to play its part in shaping a healthier, fairer and more equitable world.