DAY 1

Gozo Stadium – June 12, 2017

Today, US softball coach Connie May and her team conducted the first of three sessions for the softball players of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats at the Gozo Stadium. The focus was on fielding and pitching. The Redcoats did really well and are very much looking forward to Day 2 which will take place today. The US coaches were very happy with the session and with the progress of the Redcoats. During the session equipment donated by Bownet Sports as well as BSN Sports and brought to Gozo by the US coaches was donated to the Redcoats. The Club would like to thank both sponsors for the much needed equipment.

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DAY 2

Gozo Stadium – June 13, 2017

For the second session the focus of the Softball Training Camp shifted to sliding and batting. Once again Connie May assisted by Madi, Kelcy, Tatum and Jade did an excellent job with our girls. The players responded very well and gain much from the session. Thursday is the final day of the training camp for the youth softball players of the Redcoats.

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DAY 3

Gozo Stadium – June 15, 2017

During the first part the final day of the Softball Training Camp with Connie May and her team, Tatum Edwards and Kelcy Leach worked with the pitchers of the youth team, Madison O’Neil and Jade Smith worked with the outfielders, whereas Connie May went through various drills with the infielders.

The training camp concluded with a game as the 22 players who attended the training camp were split into two balanced teams. The game served to assess the progress of the Redcoats while at the same time to further instruct the players on specific game situations which popped up as the game went along.

There was a sense of satisfaction for both the players and the coaches as the improvement was quite evident. The training camp went a long way to boost the confidence of the players as well as their determination to continue to work hard to reach the desired level.

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SOFTBALL TRAINING CAMP – CERTIFICATES

At the end of the 3-Day softball training camp the players as well as the coaches of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats were given a Certificate of Participation issued by the World Baseball & Softball Confederation signed by President Mr Riccardo Fraccari. Scrap Yard Dawgs General Manager, Connie May, who conducted the training camp handed out the certificates to the players.

The Redcoats feel privileged that they had the opportunity to attend a training camp conducted by coaches and players who are the products of the best softball developmental model in the world. It is also astounding for the club to be associated with such an important and big softball franchise based in the United States. It is hoped that this is only the beginning of a long-lasting and fruitful relationship between the Ghajnsielem Redcoats and Scrap Yard Dawgs of Texas, USA.

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WHEN THE SCRAP YARD DAWGS MET THE REDCOATS

The Ghajnsielem Redcoats was established as a softball club in 2012 to provide opportunities for girls to play a sport. Although the club has very limited resources with no facilities where to practice and play the sport, and is based on an island where soccer is pretty much the only sport, it still managed to secure a grant of over €58,000 from the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships programme for its project Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball, and recruited Olympia Haarlem from the Netherlands, who are currently one of the strongest softball teams in Europe, and SK Princ Zagreb from Croatia, another top softball club, as partners.

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The efforts of the Redcoats to promote gender equality, and the drive to introduce softball in schools as a way to increase the participation of girls in sports, garnered support from several important local and foreign institutions. There is full backing from the Education Department and the Ministry for Education and Employment for the Softball in Schools initiative. Through the involvement of the Malta Baseball and Softball Association, the Redcoats also managed to obtain assistance for this initiative from the World Baseball and Softball Confederation, the world governing body of both baseball and softball. The WBSC assisted by sending a top level coach to Malta to conduct a softball coaching course for Physical Education teachers so that they would be able to teach softball at school.

The US coach who was selected for this project was Ms Connie May, the General Manager of the Scrap Yard Dawgs from Houston, Texas, of the National Pro Fastpitch League, one of the biggest and richest softball clubs in the world. In 2016 the organisation signed Monica Abbott to a six-year contract, worth $1 million, the most lucrative paid by a professional franchise to a female athlete in any team sport. USA Softball, the governing body in the US, and Scrap Yard Dawgs also decided to support and covered the expenses of four top level players who Coach May asked to accompany her during the trip. In this manner the Scrap Yard Dawgs from the United States met the Ghajnsielem Redcoats from tiny Gozo.

Having come to Malta and successfully helped with the implementation of Phase 1 of the Softball in Schoolsinitiative and conducted a very productive training camp for the Redcoats, Connie May and the Scrap Yard Dawgs, along with the other entities who are supporting this developmental project are already making plans to provide the necessary support to see this initiative through and to make sure that the investment done by all stakeholders brings the results expected.

TOP US COACHES FOR REDCOATS TRAINING CAMP

The Ghajnsielem Redcoats have always relied on short intensive training camps for the youth softball team as a means to improve the fundamental skills of the players as well as to enhance their love for the game. Such training camps are generally conducted by a foreign coach and also serve as a coaching clinic for the coaching staff of the club. Last week the Redcoats had a real treat as to conduct the spring training camp they had Scrap Yard Dawgs General Manager, Connie May, along with four hand-picked US softball players to help out.

The visit to Malta of Coach Connie May was made possible by the World Baseball and Softball Confederation in support of the Softball in Schools initiative of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats. The Club is making every effort to introduce softball in state schools to increase the rate of participation of girls in sports as part of the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS) which is co-financed by the European Union. Providing opportunities for girls to practice a sport is one way to improve gender equality. Coach May and her team travelled to Malta to deliver a softball coaching course to Physical Education teachers so that they can teach the game to their pupils.

The coaching delegation from the United States included 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. Scrap Yard Dawgs and USA Softball made the participation of the four players possible.

The five coaches did not come to Gozo empty handed. Connie May also managed to recruit corporate support to help out. Bownet Sports, a US manufacturer of sporting goods, supplied portable screens, batting tees, buckets of softballs and wiffle balls, elbow guards for the entire team, equipment bags, as well as a batting practice caddy. BSN Sports a US retailer of sports apparel, footwear, and equipment, also chipped in with throw down bases, buckets, and several other items which come in handy during practice sessions. The Scrap yard Dawgs also printed 80 t-shirts with the logo of the project along with that of the two partner clubs at the front, and the logos of all the sponsors at the back. These t-shirts were handed to each participant in the training camp as well as to those who attended the coaching course.

The training camp was held between June 12 and June 15 at the Gozo Stadium. The focus was on softball fundamentals as well as pitching. Footwork, glove work, fielding ground balls and fly balls, throwing, catching, baserunning, sliding, bunting and hitting were all covered during the training camp. Having five coaches conducting the practice sessions made it easier to keep up with a group of over 20 players aged from 8 to 16 with varying abilities.

The training camp concluded with a game as the players were split into two balanced teams. The game served to assess the progress of the Redcoats while at the same time to further instruct the players on specific game situations which popped up as the game went along. Overall the Redcoats did really well and the US coaches were satisfied with the progress of the girls. There was a sense of satisfaction for both the players and the coaches as the improvement was quite evident. The training camp also went a long way to boost the confidence of the players as well as their determination to continue to work hard to reach the desired level.

At the end of the training camp the players as well as the coaches of the Ghajnsielem Redcoats were given a Certificate of Participation issued by the World Baseball & Softball Confederation signed by WBSC President Mr Riccardo Fraccari. Scrap Yard Dawgs General Manager, Connie May, who conducted the training camp handed out the certificates to the players.

The Redcoats feel privileged that they had the opportunity to attend a training camp conducted by coaches and players who are the products of the best softball developmental model in the world. It is also astounding for the club to be associated with such an important and big softball franchise based in the United States. It is hoped that this is only the beginning of a long-lasting and fruitful relationship between the Ghajnsielem Redcoats and Scrap Yard Dawgs of Texas, USA.

 

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