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New Women's Baseball League in Australia heralds more opportunities for women in sport, in line with Olympic Movement and goals

posted Jul 27, 2014, 11:19 AM by Jairy Otero


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                   19 June 2014







- World governing body praises Australia's sports leaders and officials for creating more opportunities for women in sport 



LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The birth of the world's newest women's baseball competition, the Newcastle Women's Baseball League (NWBL), has expanded the sports platform for young girls and women in Newcastle, a major regional city centre, located in the state of New South Wales, Australia, where the 2000 Olympic Games were hosted in Sydney.


The NWBL season has just been launched and will offer six weeks of competition among its four founding clubs (Toronto, Belmont, University and the All-Stars).


Australia's -- and the world's -- newest "all-female" baseball league will provide women with a dedicated new stage on which to perform along with more highly sought after opportunities for women to participate in sport.


The world governing body of the sport, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), congratulated local baseball officials on establishing the new league in response to growing demand amongst local communities for more opportunities for women and young girls to participate in sport, a key goal of Australian sporting officials, including Australian IOC member and Vice President John Coates, and the Olympic Movement.


"As well as softball, which is one of the sports women most like to play globally, baseball is also growing in popularity amongst young women, and provides new opportunities for women to participate in sport and share in the benefits of sport," said Riccardo Fraccari, newly elected WBSC president, who has been leading attempts to have baseball and softball included in the sports programme for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games as part of the IOC's Agenda 2020 and Olympic sports selection review process.


Since the WBSC elections last month, the newly elected WBSC Executive Board, under President Fraccari, has made it one of the WBSC's chief priorities to call on the Baseball-Softball Family to help produce more equal opportunities for young people and women to participate in sport -- and for the skills and knowledge of women to be better harnessed and included in the WBSC's decision-making structure.


"The IOC leadership and expert committees -- along with dedicated IOC members and Olympians such as Ms. Anita DeFrantz -- deserve much credit for raising the profile of women's sport and awareness of the importance of getting more women and young girls into sport, and it is now up to sports leaders and federations such as the WBSC to find new ways to introduce more women into their sports," Fraccari said.


WBSC's Secretary General, Ms. Beng Choo Low, said baseball and softball's global governing body will do all it can to support the IOC in its campaign for women in sport.


"The bat-and-ball sports of baseball and softball continue to grow in popularity amongst women and men, and have a huge global youth appeal," she said.


"We must respond to this growing worldwide interest in baseball and softball, and help local officials and leagues to provide the services and facilities where possible to help boys and girls realise their sporting dreams, including their Olympic dreams to represent their country at the highest level of sport," she added.


Fraccari said the new Australian league will help to ensure that women are better represented and supported in the local sports culture, and the new league has been warmly welcomed by the Newcastle community where it has generated considerable interest among key local groups and industries, including Newcastle's biggest media outlets, such as NBN Television and the Newcastle Herald.


"[NWBL] is a credit to the older girls who paved the way for us," Brittany Hepburn, an Australia women's baseball national team member told the Herald. "It's one small step in the right direction."


In additional to building new bridges for women to participate in sport, the new league will also serve as a potential launching pad for girls in the region to strive toward the highest honour of playing for the national women's baseball team, the "Emeralds".


"I love representing my country," the Emerald player added.


The Emeralds will be participating in the VI Women's Baseball World Cup in Miyazaki, Japan, in September.


WBSC officials praised Australia's proactive strategy to open new doors for women in sport, which is also in line with WBSC's global growth strategy extending to 2020 and beyond.


"The WBSC fully commends Newcastle Women's Baseball League and Baseball Australia on this major development," Fraccari stated.


"This is a key indicator that the reach of baseball and softball disciplines continue to expand globally and break new barriers -- particularly among young people and women.


"Baseball and softball's global stakeholders are heavily invested in not only expanding our sport's global footprint but deepening it to build more accessible and attractive pathways to drive young people and women to our sport."


Australia's national baseball and softball teams are part of a select group that has medalled in world championships in all WBSC male and female disciplines (women's baseball and softball and men's baseball and softball) and in the Olympic Games.


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About the World Baseball Softball Confederation:

Headquartered in the Olympic Capital city of Lausanne, Switzerland, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) was established in April 2013 and granted recognition as the sole competent authority in baseball and softball by the International Olympic Committee at the 125th IOC Session in September 2013. The WBSC represents a united baseball/softball sports movement that encompasses over 65 million athletes worldwide.


The WBSC regulates all international competitions involving any of the National Teams of its 141 National Federation members.  


The WBSC also oversees the Baseball World Cups and Softball World Championships and is the only sports organisation in the world that oversees a U-12 youth national team world championship.


The WBSC currently has National Federation members in 141 countries and territories across Asia, Africa, Americas (Caribbean, Central-, North- and South-America), Europe and Oceania. 


For further information, please go to www.WBSC.co.