The implementation of the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project, INCLUSION & GENDER EQUALITY THROUGH SOFTBALL, starts this week in Ghajnsielem, Gozo. The Ghajnsielem Redcoats will be hosting four club officials from Olympia Haarlem and another four from Softball Klub Princ Zagreb between March 9 and March 12. Tara Henry, a former US Softball College player will also be participating in the activities planned for this 1st transnational meeting between the three partners in this project.

The primary objective of this transnational meeting is to increase awareness among policymakers and stakeholders about the implication of their decisions on gender inequalities in sports. Other objectives include to highlight the importance of adopting multilateralism for softball clubs as well as to start the process of capacity building for the three partners.

A busy programme of events is planned for the coaches and administrators of the three clubs who are partners in this ambitious project. On Thursday afternoon Tara Henry will conduct an introductory session to slap hitting which was her speciality when she played college softball with the UCLA Bruins, while Petra Čizmić Pokrajac of Klub Princ will assess the softball pitchers of the Redcoats. In the evening the officials of the three clubs will meet to discuss the plans for the implementation of the rest of the project. Then on Friday morning there will be two softball practice sessions at the Gozo College Ghajnsielem Primary for children from Year 1 to Year 6 at the school.

In the afternoon there will be a seminar at the Grand Hotel, where the official will be staying, titled A Multisport Approach to Softball with a Keynote Address from Mark Buttigieg M.Ed., UEFA A Coach along with talks from Joseph Scicluna about why the Redcoats opted to become a sports club promoting various sports as well as about the objectives of IGETS. Tara Henry will talk about her experience as a softball student-athlete. Lynn Spiteri of MEUSAC, who assisted the Redcoats in submitting their Erasmus+ Sports application will speak about the services that her organisation offers to entities during the process of apply for EU funding.

On Friday afternoon the 30 softball players of the Redcoats aged between 9 and 16 will have a practice session with the coaches of the three clubs. Another such session is planned for Saturday afternoon. In the evening there will be a concluding meeting with an assessment of the implementation of the project along with a discussion of the plans for the 2nd transnational meeting planned for May 10 to May 14 in Haarlem, the Netherlands, as well as activities which will be organised in each country during the course of 2017. The officials will fly back to their respective countries on Sunday.

Given the amount of effort that each club is dedicating to the success of this project, along with the support that the project is receiving from important international organisations such as the European Softball Federation, and local entities in the three countries, everyone associated with this project is confident that IGETS will be a tremendous success and it will achieve its targets related to gender equality in sports as well as capacity building of the three clubs.

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