The implementation of the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project, INCLUSION & GENDER EQUALITY THROUGH SOFTBALL (IGETS), will reach its climax with the 3rd transnational meeting scheduled for July 23-28, 2018 in Zagreb, Croatia. Whereas during the first two transnational meetings held last year coaches from the three participating clubs met in Ghajnsielem, Gozo and Haarlem, the Netherlands to exchange best practices and for capacity building, this time the U17 youth teams of the three respective clubs will participate in a triangular training camp and tournament.

Softball Klub Princ Zagreb will be hosting the other two partners in the Erasmus+ Sports project IGETS, as the Ghajnsielem Redcoats and Honk- en Softbalvereniging Olympia Haarlem will be travelling from Malta and the Netherlands respectively for an intensive five-day training camp. Along with the women’s U17 softball players of the two clubs, there will be coaches, club officials and parents making the trip to the capital city of Croatia. A crew from Citadel Video Communications comprising of four individuals will also be travelling from Gozo to Zagreb to document the training camp and to report on the activities on Maltese media.

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On Monday, July 23, the two clubs will be arriving in Zagreb and the activities will focus on team building so that the players of the three clubs will get to know each other, with fun games so that the players coming from three different nationalities, speaking three different languages, get to integrate with each other. The officials from the three clubs along with the coaches will also meet to review the performance of the partnership and to plan ahead. A welcome dinner will follow at the softball fields of Princ.

Two practice sessions are scheduled for Tuesday with a morning and afternoon session with pitching and catching to be the main focus along with positional play. Sandwiched between the two practices the players will have a walkabout in the city with an IGETS theme, intended to further increase awareness among the girls with regards to inclusion and gender equality. This will be followed by a players’ forum with the coaches titled Confidence & Motivation. Nicole Thomas, a US fastpitch softball pitching coach, will then provide a brief description of the US softball model from High School to College. She will also suggest ways how to adapt the US model in Europe.

On Wednesday there will be the first games as the Redcoats will face Princ while Olympia will take on a selection of players from the three teams. Prior to the two games there will be a session of team defence with situational plays.

Thursday will be another busy day with a morning practice session. Following practice the players will have a seminar with a nutritionist who will cover aspects of the diet for players prior to practice, games and tournaments, during tournaments and following practices and games. The girls will then prepare lunch together in what can be considered as another team building exercise. After lunch the players will have another seminar this time by a sports psychologist who will tackle issues that have to do with mental preparation for practices and games, self-confidence and battling adversity during a game. The day will conclude with another session of team defence with situational plays followed by two games. This time Princ will face Olympia, while the Redcoats will play against a selection of players from the three teams.

For the final day of the training camp there will be an administrator’s meeting to assess the performance of the partnership during the training camp and to plan ahead for the final few months of IGETS. There will also be a forum for the players where the girls will have their say on how IGETS made a difference for them. They will also complete a questionnaire on IGETS and the training camp which would provide valuable feedback for the project coordinators. The training camp will conclude with the final two games as Olympia will play against the Redcoats while Princ plays against the selection of players from the three teams. A farewell dinner and party will bring the curtain down on what is expected to be a wonderful and memorable experience for everyone involved.

There are multiple objectives for the Zagreb training camp ranging from further capacity building and sharing of best practices for the coaches of the three clubs, to improving the level of play and skills of the U17 players of the three clubs. Still the most important objective of this third transnational meeting is to further enhance the love for the game of softball of the participating players so that they continue to play the game well into their adulthood and even take up administrative or coaching positions once they grow up.

IGETS is a two-year project co-financed by the European Union. The Ghajnsielem 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.