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WBSC launches African Summit to analyse and spotlight wave of new baseball/softball growth on continent

posted May 10, 2017, 10:27 PM by Jairy Otero

JOHANNESBURG — The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) today announced the launch of the inaugural WBSC African Summit 2017, WBSC’s first-ever conference of its kind is being organised to review and best harness baseball and softball’s increasing participation rates and popularity across the African continent.

The three-day summit will be hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 5-7 May and will gather high-ranking officials from the WBSC, the African Baseball and Softball Association (ABSA), and 20 national governing bodies.

The agenda of the WBSC Africa Summit 2017 will focus on baseball and softball continental development across all age-groups, with a particular emphasis on driving youth and women’s expansion in the bat-and-ball team sport to unprecedented levels.

A total of 33 African delegates and representatives from the WBSC will be present in Johannesburg, including President Riccardo Fraccari.

Baseball and softball’s return to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 has led to an increased global interest in both sports and attracted significant new funding, especially in emerging baseball and softball territories.

“To reach the next stage of becoming a major global sport and position baseball and softball as long-term Olympic events, Africa can and will play a key role to acheive these objectives,” said WBSC President Fraccari, “and this is why we are staging this WBSC Africa Summit.  Baseball and softball have never been as popular across the globe as they are today, and I look forward to meeting with ABSA, our National Federation Members and delegates across the continent to sustain these positives trends in our sport.”

With 65 million athletes in over 140 countries worldwide, the WBSC is now aiming to harness growing enthusiasm and access to resources in Africa to help achieve its ambitious development goals.

Africa is a key continent for the implementation of these wide-ranging goals, which include providing financial and practical support and guidance in training, coaching and umpiring in conjunction with National Federations, as well as venue construction, the establishment of new clubs and school and community projects. To help the WBSC achieve their goals, the organisation has created a Development Commission, which together with the Executive Committee of the WBSC, has created comprehensive Development Programmes officially launched earlier this year.

Africa celebrates its first-ever Major League Baseball player

History was made recently for African baseball and softball as Gift Ngoepe, a native of Randburg, Gauteng, South Africa, made his official debut in Major League Baseball, becoming the first African-born MLB player.

Africa Nations debut on Global Stage

African nations last year also made historic debuts in Softball World Championships, as Kenya and Uganda competed in their first WBSC Women’s Softball World Championship in Surrey, Canada, and debuted in the official WBSC Women’s Softball World Ranking.

The latest developments follow historic growth for baseball and softball across Africa, with first-ever national stadiums erected in Ghana and Uganda in early 2014.

II WBSC World Baseball Softball Congress 2017 – Gaborone, Botswana

The WBSC has made developing baseball and softball in Africa a strategic priority since the founding of the global confederation, which was officially established in 2014 at the inaugural WBSC World Baseball Softball Congress in the North African city of Hammamet, Tunisia.

The II WBSC World Baseball Softball Congress 2017 will be held in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, in October. In 2011, South Africa staged the IX Junior Women’s Softball World Championship.

WBSC’s focus across the emerging baseball/softball continent has seen a number of major successes in recent months, including the recent formation of the Mozambique Baseball Softball Federation, supported by WBSC and Mozambique’s National Institute of Sport and the Mozambique Olympic Committee.