We urge everyone who has women’s sport at heart to attend these two high level softball games in show of support for female athletes

When the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project, Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS) was being designed back in March/April of 2016, the plan was to conclude with a conference in Zagreb, Croatia, where the findings and outcomes of the project would be announced to the European softball community during a conference. However, given what the three partners in the project learned since the start of its implementation in January 2017, it was decided that there would be a greater impact in achieving the ambitious objectives of the project should a high level tournament be organised in Gozo with the participation of the best players of the three Clubs.

The idea behind the plan for the 4th and final transnational meeting of IGETS is that for a sustainable reduction in the gender imbalances which prevail in sports to happen, there need to be an increase in attendances at events and competitions involving female athletes. Once attendances improve the media would be more inclined to start covering events as there would interest from the general public. This would then start a virtuous cycle. Better media coverage would generate more interest from participants and from the general public as well. The rate of participation would increase and eventually so would the opportunities for girls to play a sport, with the availability of sport-specific facilities, and more coaches. There would also be interest from corporate sponsors to fund the growth of the sport. By filling the stands with spectators we would be helping improve gender equality in sports.

How do we go about filling the stands with spectators?

The first to make the move need to be the parents of the players. Unless we manage to generate interest from the relatives and friends of those associated with the female teams or athletes it is going to be an uphill battle. The general apathy towards female sports can be overcome by increasing awareness. IGETS has been working on this over the past two years and the Gozo Cup International Tournament is going to be another opportunity to make a big impact in this respect.

On Friday November 2nd and on Saturday November 3rd there will be two high level fastpitch softball games at the Gharb Football Ground, in Gozo, with the participation of some of the best players in the Netherlands and in Croatia. The three partners in the Erasmus+ Sports project IGETS will come together to form two teams, Olympia-Redcoats and Princ-Redcoats who will play each other twice for the right to lift the GOZO CUP.

Eva Voortman, Brenda Beers, Rosanne de Vries, Maranca Ham, and Rachel van Veen, will be travelling from the Netherlands to represent Olympia Haarlem, whereas Petra Čizmić Pokrajac, Mara Sliško, Rita Despot, Katarina Prskalo, and Ema Žiger will be coming from Croatia to represent SK Princ Zagreb. Olympia have just secured their second Golden League triumph in two years. The Dutch Golden League is arguably the best fastpitch softball league in Europe. The players who will be travelling to Gozo all play for the Dutch softball national team, the reigning Women’s Fastpitch Softball European Champions. Similarly, SK Princ Zagreb have won the softball national championship of Croatia for at least the past five years, and the players who will be playing in Gozo all play for the Croatian national team.

The Redcoats, who are also the reigning national champions of Malta, will participate with their U18 youth players. Half of the players will play on team REDCOATS-OLYMPIA-PRINC, whereas the other half will play for team MLT-CRO-NED. The youth players of the Għajnsielem Redcoats will get the opportunity of a lifetime to play alongside, and against, some of the best players in Europe. This is expected to be a tremendous experience for the youth players of the Club, something that they will cherish forever.

We urge everyone who has women’s sport at heart to attend these two high level softball games in show of support for female athletes.

IGETS is a two-year project co-financed by the European Union. The Għajnsielem Redcoats received assistance from the Ministry of Education and Employment through the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport & Voluntary Organisations to meet its co-financing obligations.

Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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