The push of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats for gender equality in sports in Malta is gradually gaining momentum. Through the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS), the club is trying to increase the popularity of softball as a means to improve the rate of participation of girls in sports. The Education Department along with several other national organisations are supporting the initiatives of the Redcoats. Thanks to the efforts of Mr Kevin Azzopardi, EO Physical Education, there is a plan to introduce softball in State Schools during the 2017/18 scholastic year. This would be a tremendous development for our sport as well as for gender equality.

An agreement was reached in April with the Minister of Education and Employment, Hon Evarist Bartolo, to provide a series of softball coaching courses for PE teachers from Gozo and Malta. Through the efforts of Mario Debono, the President of the Malta Baseball and Softball Association, the World Baseball and Softball Confederation is sending a high level coach from the United States to conduct the first such course. Ms Connie May, the General Manager of the Scrap Yard Dawgs, a professional softball club based in Houston, United States, will be in Malta next week for this purpose. Four top level softball players will be accompanying her to help out. Scrap Yard Dawgs along with USA Softball are sponsoring the involvement of the four players.

Tatum Edwards, former pitcher at Nebraska Huskers Softball, Madison ‘Madi’ O’Neil, outfielder at Baylor University, Jade Smith, former UTSA Roadrunners outfielder, and Kelcy Leach, a catcher who just graduated from The Woodlands High School in Texas, will be assisting coach Connie May.

The coaching course will take place on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, June 14, 15 & 16 from 9:30am to 11:30am at the National Sports School, Pembroke. At least two PE teachers from each college in Malta will be attending this course along with eleven from Gozo. There are several individuals who are already involved with softball who will also be attending this coaching course. Certificates will be distributed to those who attend these sessions by the Association.

For those with experience coaching softball, there will be a Level 2 coaching course on Saturday at the Mellieha Football Ground starting at 9:15am to 11:30. The afternoon session which is scheduled from 12:15pm to 2pm will continue to build on this but will have the involvement of the softball players who are based in Malta, mainly players of the Mellieha Curves and the Luxol Mustangs.

During their stay in Malta, Connie May and her players will conduct a 3-day intensive training camp for the players of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats at the Gozo Stadium. The sessions will be on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 5pm to 8:15pm. Pitching, fielding, catching, and team defence will be covered during this training camp which will end with a softball game on Thursday starting at 6:30pm. This game will feature the four US players.

Softball has the potential to be a big sport for girls in Malta. It is already one of the most popular among girls in Gozo with well over 30 girls between 10 and 17 practicing and playing softball with the Redcoats. Next week could prove to be an important event in the history of this sport in our islands. For the momentum of these activities not to dissipate, further efforts are needed especially during the upcoming season, starting in October. Let’s hope that everyone involved in softball will pull together and support these efforts for the good of the game.

The Ghajnsielem Redcoats would like to thank the main sponsor of the coaching course and the training camp, the World Baseball and Softball Confederation. Their involvement made this possible. Important sponsors are the Ministry of Education, Scrap Yard Dawgs, USA Softball, the Malta Baseball and Softball Association and the Gozo Sports Board. The EU is co-financing the IGETS project.


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