Press Release: Softball gives compelling presentation to IOC Program Commission
Lausanne, Switzerland; 14th November 2008: The BackSoftball team today vowed to make softball the most inclusive sport on the planet, as it made its case to return to the Olympic family during a compelling presentation here to the International Olympic Committee Program Commission.
Softball has been campaigning vigorously to be reinstated to the Summer Olympic Games and the BackSoftball team highlighted why recent changes and developments sit firmly alongside the values of the Olympic movement.
ISF President Don Porter was accompanied by ISF VP/North America and co-chair of the BackSoftball Task Force Dale McMann (CAN); Ms. Low Beng Choo (MAS), the world governing body's deputy secretary general; Donna de Varona, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming and co-chair of the BackSoftball Task Force; and 2008 softball Olympians Saskia Kosterink from the Netherlands and Venezuelas Rubilena Rojas, who each competed in their first Games three months ago.
Mr. Porter underlined the significant changes that the ISF has made since 2005 when softball was voted off the 2012 Olympic program, including increasing the number of federations to 127, improving education programs, promoting and providing coaching and equipment in under-developed areas, and making rule changes to enhance the spectator experience and add to the sports conduciveness to television broadcasts.
Mr. Porter told the IOC Program Commission: The Singapore vote was a wake-up call; it was a chance, for our sport to change and improve. And we have seized that chance with both hands. We have already changed and will continue to change for the better. We are constantly listening and learning. Our mission is to make softball the most inclusive team sport on the planet.
Ms. Kosterink and Ms. Rojas spoke passionately about the continued success softball had enjoyed throughout the hugely successful Beijing Olympic Games this summer, highlighting the sellout crowds, close nature of many games, significant positive global media coverage, and the competitions continued record of no positive doping tests.
But Ms. Rojas went further, underlining how softball had made a difference to her life and how she believed it was acting as a force for good in society. She said, I found a sport that didnt judge me; it asked no questions when it welcomed me into its family. I found a sport that helped me set and reach ever higher targets. Softball gave me an education and led me to coaching and to a job. It is a sport that allowed me to become someone. An Olympian.
Donna de Varona explained to the Program Commission that softballs continuing legacy sits firmly in line with the Olympic vision and values.
As well as the inaugural Youth World Cup that will be played next year in Prague, softball is working tremendously hard to help increase the number of women participating in sport as well as continuing to expand its global educational projects to help communities and promote a healthy lifestyle among young people.
Among other comments made during her portion of the presentation, Ms. De Varona said, Softball was the key to help unlock so many injustices around the world. Softball has been instrumental in allowing women and girls to play sport in some of the most restricted countries in the world. Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq. Put simply: Softball has resulted in millions more women and girls playing sport today. The Olympic Games has been the inspiration.
The BackSoftball delegation was given one hour 30 minutes to speak, and another half-hour for questions and answers to make its presentation to the IOC Program Commission, which is chaired by Franco Carraro and includes Frank Fredericks, Craig Reedie, and Sam Ramsamy among its 17 members.
Softball is competing for a place in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, with two sports set to be added to the current roster of 26 when the IOC meets in Copenhagen in October next year.
Softball was first featured in the Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and this years competition in Beijing, which was won by Japan, was hugely successful with a total attendance close to 180,000 and a continuation of the sports excellent record of no positive drug tests in major competitions.
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