Softball Confirmed As SRSA Priority Sport By Cheryl Roberts

27 Jun

Sport and recreation South Africa, the government department that receives the government budget to manage and support sport in South Africa, has confirmed in Minister of Sport Xaba’s budget speech, that softball will this year be the department’s priority sport.

Over the past years, SRSA has prioritised some sports for intense assessment, funding, emphasis and assistance. Through their priority sport programme, sports such as netball and volleyball have been assisted in setting up the much needed national leagues.

This year, softball will be the priority sport with the objective to set up a national league.

Softball is a popular sport played mostly by girls and young women and older women and boys and men. The sport, has over the past five years been struggling for recognition, funding and to attain sound governance. During the past years of turbulence in the sport, softball was suspended by SASCOC, missed international tournaments, forced their players to pay personal costs to represent South Africa. Then SASCOC finally decided that Softball South Africa was sorted out and could be ‘back in SASCOC’ as a full member.

Now SRSA will prioritise softball development and help initiate the inaugural national softball league.  This national league event will motivate players to play the game and perform to play in the national league. But the sport also needs much more international competition. Sending out a national youth and senior team now and then, every 3-4 years doesn’t help growth of softball.

Veteran softball administrator Thelma Achilles, says SRSA’s announcement to make softball a priority sport is ‘very good news and just what the sports needs to grow further’.

For a sport that has been struggling with internal disputes, lack of publicity and funding, the national league should place softball in a higher bracket of elite development. ‘Let’s hope we can get the national league off the ground, very soon,’ says Thelma Achilles. ‘Softball needs this national league and we need more funding and help at grassroots and club level to grow the game around South Africa’.

South Africa’s women’s softball team will play in the 2018 world cup in Japan. SA qualified, together with Botswana at the African qualifiers held in SA, earlier this year. Because of ‘no tournament funding’, players and management have to personally pay to play in the softball world cup.

At least, SRSA will work with Softball South Africa and help eliminate their internal issues and steer the sport forward. The national league will for sure boost the sport and motivate and inspire emerging and elite softball players.

 thelma achilles

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