Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Softball pledges to increase development in Asia


Singapore; 2nd July 2009: International Softball Federation Deputy Secretary General Ms. Low Beng Choo has vowed to help make softball a major sport in Asia upon attending the Olympic Council of Asia General Assembly, to provide a further boost to the BackSoftball campaign for the sport’s reinstatement to the Olympic Programme in 2016.

Ms. Low, who is also a member of the International Olympic Committee Women and Sport Commission, is very active on the Asian sporting scene as Malaysian Softball Federation President, Softball Confederation of Asia Secretary General, and Olympic Council Malaysia Vice President.

Softball has enjoyed significant success in Asia recently with Japan winning the Olympic Games final against USA in China last summer, which resulted in record broadcast figures for Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Ms. Low said, “Softball was a huge success in Beijing and we are building on that in Asia to ensure we maximize the potential of the sport to change the lives of young people across the region.

“Softball’s status as an Olympic Games Programme sport is integral to our vision of using the sport to provide opportunities for young people and women, particularly in Muslim countries where softball stands out because it is a non-contact team sport that permits conservative dress.

“A new regional training center is being established in China at our Beijing Olympic venue, which will be accessible to softball players across Asia.”

Ms. Low has been promoting softball among delegates who are attending the OCA meetings here in Singapore, highlighting the huge popularity of the sport in the region.

Cheap and simple to learn, softball is also proving popular among children from less developed areas of the region, with orphans in China getting a visit from the ISF last year being one high-profile example of how the sport has captured the imagination of Asian youth.

Softball is also very popular here in Singapore, with their national women's fast pitch team finishing fourth at the Southeast Asian Games in 2005; while in 2007 they competed in the ten-nation 9th Asian Women's Championship in Indonesia. Singapore will also compete at the upcoming World Games in Taiwan (July 17-20) as part of the six-team women's softball competition.

Singapore’s men’s team also competed in the qualifying tournament for the ISF XII Men's World Championship that starts on July 17 in Canada.

The ISF is committed to growing the sport worldwide in a bid to target new players at every level, with particular focus on women and youth.

Softball’s exemplary anti-doping record in top level competition is further reason why softball is becoming so popular throughout the world.

Softball was first featured in the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and last year’s competition in Beijing was very successful with a total attendance close to 180,000 and a continuation of the sport’s excellent record of no positive doping tests at any of the four Summer Olympics that the sport has been a part of.

A final decision on which sports will be added to the current roster of 26 at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be made at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen in October this year. - Around The Ring

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