Social softball a success in London

Thu 3 Oct 2019

On Saturday 21st September, around 40 female and non-binary players joined in a day of relaxed practice and games of softball in blazing sunshine in North London’s Clissold Park.

The event was organised by Lizi Josypenko and Claire Read, longstanding members of Bat to The Future who play in the Greater London Slowpitch Mixed Softball League (GLSML). Aimed predominantly at less experienced players, participants came from a wide variety of teams in the GLSML and also the London Advertising League (LASL).

With thanks to support from Hackney Council, BaseballSoftballUK and the GLSML, the event was able to be hosted at no cost to participants.

Players were assigned into teams based on the suffragettes' colour scheme, devised in 1908 by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, co-editor of Votes for Women, with purple representing loyalty and dignity, white for purity and green for hope, with a little orange sprinkled in as a nod to Claire and Lizi’s club team colour.

The day was supported by Liz Knight, BaseballSoftballUK’s London Development Manager and Assistant Coach for GB Softball Women’s Adult National team, who commented:

“The event was a great way to round off a wonderful summer of softball. We know that slowpitch softball is genuinely mixed in the make-up of a team, which is a strong driver in keeping people engaged in the sport. The fact that it’s a mixed sport makes slowpitch a strong adult social activity that people want to continue to be involved in. However, it’s also really fun to play in a female and non-binary environment sometimes as it creates a different atmosphere. Data taken from our participant survey shows that not only do our players play for fun, but they are highly motivated to use softball as a way to meet new people and catch up with friends."

BaseballSoftballUK, via its pioneering LGBT Advisory Panel formed of volunteers from softball and other sports, has been instrumental in promoting diversity initiatives such as Inclusive Softball Rules, details of which can be found here.

Of their experience of the day, one participant told organisers, “I love the mixed nature of softball, it makes it really social and adds to the strategy. Nonetheless, it’s really nice to play without men sometimes and it changes the dynamic of the game. The day was set up creating an atmosphere where it felt OK to give things a go without apprehension. I can’t wait to do it again.”

Summing up the initiative and hinting at more to come, organiser Claire Read, said, “We first set up the day because we thought it would be fun to play some softball with all the awesome female and non-binary players we know, providing an empowering and positive space to work on our skills and try out new things.
Softball is a brilliant sport and should be accessible to everyone. We are hoping that events like this support skills, confidence and recruitment, as well as being brilliant fun and a great way to make friends in other teams."

"If you think you’d like something similar in your area or league, all I can say is ‘go for it!’ and set it up yourself like we did. It’s so fun!”

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