Softball is one of seven sports vying for a spot on the Olympic program starting in 2016. The IOC will meet in October in Copenhagen to vote on at least two new sports to add to the Summer Games but for the International Softball Federation (ISF) this is a reinstatement campaign since Softball was already an Olympic event over four Olympiads starting in 1996.
Last year the ISF launched Back Softball – an initiative to get softball back into the Olympics that includes a 10-point blueprint of what it hopes to achieve.
“We’ve addressed most of the issues; some slower than others so that by the time we get to the IOC [International Olympic Committee] in June, we can show that we’ve made progress”, President of ISF Don Porter explained to GamesBids.com.
“We’ve positioned the issues in front of IOC members and we keep softball in the news.”
Porter outlined further achievements including the addition of more major competitions and attracting attention from the media – especially television.
A key element of the blueprint is to increase the number of dedicated Softball Federations that will help increase the number of worldwide participants in the sport.
“There are seven or eight new federations about to be organized and were going to try to accelerate that. There should be four or five in the next month or two”, Porter said.
As a strategy to drive interest in the Middle East, the ISF became involved in “Generations For Peace” – an initiative of Jordan’s Prince Feisal to help children become involved in sport and to promote sports leadership in the region. Softball’s inclusion in the program has given young females opportunities to participate and as a result, Jordan has established a National Softball federation and the ISF has made inroads in the region.
But reinstatement won’t come easy.
“We’ve got some really good competitors”, Porter said.
“It’s hard to gauge [how we are doing], it’s a work in progress. Softball has many elements including universality, growth, youth and female participation.”
In another positive step forward, the ISF is opening a new office in Lausanne, Switzerland this month in order to escalate their level of communication with the IOC – also based in Lausanne.
Several new events and tournaments are scheduled between now and the decision date in October, and new softball regional training centres are opening in Santo Domingo, Moscow, Rome and Beijing.
Softball will be competing against baseball, golf, rugby, squash, karate and roller sports for its chance to be reinstated on the Olympic program.