LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The International Baseball Federation (IBAF) announced Wednesday the names on its first ever Women’s Baseball Committee and outlined the next steps in the continued global growth of women’s baseball.
“Baseball is a sport for all, and the future success of the game, especially in emerging countries, lies at the grassroots level where boys and girls play the game together,” says IBAF President Dr. Harvey Schiller. “Our efforts will be to both build up that support system for young people and then find ways to give girls who wish to stay involved in baseball when they get to their teenage years the opportunity to do so. Many girls do not have the opportunity to continue playing into their teenage years and either go to other sports or stop playing entirely, and we need to invest in their development to make sure that a healthy next-level option exists and grows.”
The Women’s Baseball Committee is chaired by Dr. Donna Lopiano, Ph.D., former head of the Women’s Sports Foundation and one of the most respected people in athletics today. The committee members include: Andre LaChance (Canada), Susan Zhang (China), Hiroko Yamada (Japan), Kitty Au (Chinese Taipei), Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke (Nigeria), Athokpam Bhanu Devi (India), Margarita Mayeta (Cuba), Sandra Monteiro (Portugal), Brett Pickett (Australia), and Crystal Choi (Korea).
The committee has outlined a plan that will include:
- The development of written materials and starter kits for member federations to use to teach the game to more young girls.
- The development of technical teams which can offer instruction for member federations.
- The identification of 20 additional member federations per year to target the growth of the women’s game specifically.
- Developing a set of guidelines for policy makers so that there are no barriers for young women to play baseball.
- An enhanced marketing presence targeted at girls and women.
The Committee will also begin the review process for the site of the 2010 IBAF Women’s World Cup, which will be held next summer, and will review the guidelines for the first ever IBAF Women’s Baseball World rankings, which will be announced for the current list of over 30 nations that offer elite women’s baseball. Currently it is estimated that over 400,000 women and girls play baseball globally, and the IBAF expects that number to double in the next few years as these initiatives take hold, especially in Europe and emerging nations.
The IBAF is submitting a five-day, eight-team women’s baseball tournament as part of its application to return to the Olympic Programme in 2016 as well. The event would take the place of the IBAF Women’s World Cup that year.
The Committee will reconvene via conference call in late June, following the IBAF’s presentation to the International Olympic Committee Executive Committee in Lausanne , Switzerland on Monday, 15 June. Sandra Monteiro will represent the Women’s Committee at that meeting. Monteiro, a former player, is the only female president of an IBAF member federation and is a member of the Portuguese Olympic Committee.