Guest Author - Traci Falb
When I was young growing up in Ohio, I never saw softball outside of my state. I probably saw only those players who I looked up to as peers or coaches. Little did I know there was another whole world playing softball that I knew nothing about. Here in the United States, we have the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), which defines many other programs also sponsoring softball teams nationally. Internationally, there is the International Softball Federation (ISF).
The intent of the International Softball Federation (ISF) is to "encourage the development of all types of Softball throughout all nations"(www.isfsoftball). Although their headquarters are located in Plant City in Florida, they represent all countries. The ISF is responsible for not only encouraging the playing of softball but educating as well.
In Zimbabwe, for example, the ISF held a workshop for coaching, umpiring, and scoring softball and was co-hosted by the Zimbabwe Softball Association. In Bulgaria, an advanced pitching clinic took place along with pitchers and coaches from Bulgaria, Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Serbia and Romania. In Japan, Venezuela and Guatemala, umpire certification seminars took place so they could become ISF certified.
In 2012, some noteworthy events took place. The ISF was involved in approving the decision to combine Baseball and Softball to form the International Baseball and Softball Federation, anticipating the decision will allow for re-entry into the 2020 Olympic Games. The Royal Dutch Baseball & Softball Association celebrated 60 years of softball and 100 years of baseball. Softball New Zealand celebrated 75 years. The Softball Confederation of Asia will host three new events for softball.
Press releases for the past year from the ISF include many articles on how much the sport of softball was missed in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Argentina was named World Champion in the IX ISF Jr. Men's World Championship. This achievement made history for Softball Argentina in their hometown when they beat Japan and won the title for the first time ever.
In 2012, World Softball Day was celebrated all over the world commemorating the day on June 13, 1991 that the International Olympic Committee made public their decision to add women's fast pitch softball to the Summer Olympics. The USA softball team was inducted into the Olympic Hall of Fame, in addition to members Jennie Finch and Lisa Fernandez, who were recognized individually as well (www.isfsoftball).
These are just a few highlights from the International Softball Federation for the past year. They have many articles addressing softball in numerous countries on their website. I have learned a lot and been inspired by reading about international softball.