Author: Colum Lavery

2021 Registration & Team Fees Announced

As the outlook for the 2021 season continues to look on the up, Softball Ireland are inviting teams wishing to play in leagues or tournaments in 2021 to register with Softball Ireland.

Membership of Softball Ireland provides players with insurance to play in leagues and tournaments as well as opening up access to training and educational courses provided to Softball Ireland throughout the season. The Softball Ireland membership fee (paid through your team) allows Softball Ireland cover its ongoing operational and development costs.

Teams participating in the Softball Ulster league or the Softball Leinster mid-week league should register through their region, all other teams wishing to register with Softball Ireland should email the Softball Ireland Secretary.

FEES

The Softball Ireland Board had confirmed the 2021 teams fees as follows:

Team Fee (which includes insurance) – €350

Development Levy* – €30 per team

The development levy will be ringfenced for investment in coaching and umpiring courses and the implementation of the Sofbtall Ireland Slowpitch Development Plan.

An overview of the Softball Ireland 2021 budget and the allocation of members funds may be accessed here

Softball Ulster Players

Softball is back in Ulster

Monday April 12, 2021 saw a return to training for teams based in Northern Ireland. Softball teams are allowed to resume training in groups up to and including 15 players and coaches.

From April 23, 2021 competitive fixtures are allowed to return and teams in Ulster are now preparing for the upcoming season.

All teams in Ulster are actively recruiting for new players and if you are interested in playing Softball in the Belfast area, click through to www.softballulster.com to find a team.

Return to Play Update

As part of the roadmap to return to play, with effect from today certain sporting activities may return. Unfortunately, Softball is not one of these sports just yet. Softball Ireland continues to liaise with with Sport Ireland on the pathway to return to training and return to games timelines.

Softball Ireland wish to remind teams that no organised formal team training is permitted in the Republic of Ireland and the Softball Ireland insurane policy remians suspended in the Republic of Ireland.

In anticipation of the government green lisht for return to play, the Softball Ireland COVID-19 Hub has been updated with the 2021 Protocol together with risk assesment guidelines have been updated by the Medical Committee, to assess the hub, please click here.

From Monday the 26th of April

Outdoor sports facilities can reopen (for example: pitches, golf courses and tennis courts, other facilities as appropriate).

Activities should take place between a maximum of two households. Facilities including club houses and any indoor facilities (for example: changing rooms, showers, kitchens, meeting rooms), apart from essential toilet facilities must remain closed. There should not be any return to team sports or training activities.

Underage non-contact outdoor training in pods of 15 can resume.

Irish Teams withdrawn from European Competition due to COVID

Further to the recommendation of the Softball Ireland Medical Committee, the Softball Ireland Board on March 15, 2021 agreed to withdraw all Softball Ireland National Teams and Club Teams from International Competition up to and including August 2021. The decision of the Board is athlete welfare driven to ensure those representing Ireland may do so in the safest way possible

The rationale for the recommendation of the Softball Ireland Medical Committee and the decision of our Board is as follows:

1. Ireland continues to be in a Level 5 (highest level) lock down which restricts movement and does not permit sport to be played bar for a very l imited number of sports. Softball (and Baseball) does not meet the criteria of elite sport in Ireland. At this point, we do not foresee Softball recommencing in Ireland before May 2021 earliest and therefore do not believe our athletes can be adequately conditioned or prepared to participate in an international tournament.

2. The continued spiking of COVID -19 across Europe together with the inconsistent vaccination roll out (including Ireland) has concerned our Medical Committee who formed the opinion that the risk of inf ection and the subsequent 14 day quarantining of infected player/staff continued to be too high a risk for amateur athletes. The concerns of the Medical Committee have been reconfirmed by the recent snap lockdowns in Italy and other European Countries coupled with the positive tests of an Irish athlete returning from the recent European Indoor Championships in Poland.

3. The on-going uncertainty around travel restrictions for athletes entering and exiting Italy, irrespective of nationality and the financial risk s associated with this.

4. In addition to the medical and logistical risks identified by the Medical Committee, the Irish government has also introduced a €2,000 travel fine ( per person) for non-essential International travel. We have been advised that travelling to compete in Softball European Championships does not meet the requirements to be deemed essential travel.

The decision to withdraw from international competition in 2021 was not a decision taken lightly by the Softball Ireland Board. However after discussions with the Medical Committee, HSE, coaches and athletes, the Softball Ireland Board has taken the position that our decisions would be taken with an abundance of caution and medically led by our Medical Committee.

Softball Ireland can confirm that the following teams have been withdrawn from 2021 events:
• Ireland National Team withdrawn from the Co- ed Slowpitch European Championships 2021

• Ireland National Team withdrawn from the Women’s European Championships 2021

• Dodder Softball Club withdrawn from the Co- Ed Slowpitch Super Cup 2021

International Women’s Day – Amanda Ní Ghabhann

Continuing the celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, Softball Ireland are highlighting the profiles of our female Board Members who are key to the leadership and governance of our sport.

Our next proflie is Amanda Ní Ghabhann. Softball Ireland Board Member who plays softball with Renegades Softball Club.

How did you get involved in Softball?
A friend had seen a game being played in St Annes Park and wanted to try it out; she didn’t want to go on her own so convinced me to tag along; that was 5 years ago 🙂 

Why do you think Softball is such an inclusive sport?
Softball is a coed sport that adapts naturally to people’s needs; there’s certain rules which achieve this but the individual element of the team game also promotes inclusivity. The membership ranges from 16-70. It is also a socially distant sport, which is a huge positive in the current times. 

How can we get more women playing team sports after school?
That’s the million dollar question, right! I think we need to provide more opportunities that meet women’s needs, to address the gender play gap. Campaigns like 20×20 “if she can’t see it, she can’t be it” provided more visibility of female role models in sport, but the fundamental needs like fun, family and work life balance need to be incorporated into participation for most women. Softball meets all of these needs by combining a fun – competitive – supportive – inclusive environment. 

What motivated you to join the Softball Ireland Board?
I joined the Softball Leinster board with the desire to be the Leinster rep on the Softball Ireland board. I felt this would be the best way to share my professional knowledge of sports governance and streamline strategies between regional and national committees. 

How do we encourage more women to get involved in leadership in sport?
I don’t think women need encouragement to get involved in leadership in sport; I think we need better strategies for female participation in ALL areas of sport with particular focus on retention. If we address the specific needs of women and grow numbers across the baseline we will naturally see an increase of women  in leadership roles.

International Women’s Day – Dr. Melanie Cunningham

In continuing the celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, Softball Ireland are highlighting the profiles of our female Board Members who are key to the leadership and governance of our sport.

Our next proflie is Melanie Cunningham, Softball Ireland Board Member, Director of Fastpitch Softball, Women’s National Team Head Coach and former international player.

How did you get involved in Softball?
I started playing softball when I was 4, I was lucky that my Mom signed me up. There weren’t actually a lot of other options at the time for girls, but I loved it. There were times when I was playing on 3-4 different teams in different leagues, so that I could play basically every day of the week.

Why do you think Softball is such an inclusive sport?
The thing about softball, is there is a level for everyone. You just want to come out 1 day a week, never practice and socialise during the game – no problem. Or conversely, you want to play at an elite level internationally? The options are yours.

How can we get more women playing team sports after school?
Unfortunately, women often feel there is no place for them to have something they enjoy doing during the week. After work, family, and any other long-term commitments, women are tired and don’t feel they have the time – it can all become quite insular. Whereas, it is actually just an hour or two one or 2 days a week, and research shows staying active helps improve energy levels and overall health and well-being. These days social media is a great way to spread the word – but also mainstream media focusing on women sports and giving them equal air time will show the opportunities available.

What motivated you to join the Softball Ireland Board?
I thought it was important to have more women involved at the decision-making level, especially since I invest a lot of my limited spare time into coaching and holding open days to promote the sport.

How do we encourage more women to get involved in leadership in sport?
By asking and encouraging women to take up these positions. I always keep an eye out for players who have a natural ability to coach and try to incorporate them into future teams in this new role. As the visibility of women in these roles increases, it will become a part of the automatic transition cycle within the sport.

International Women’s Day – Gillian Fitzpatrick

Joining the world in celebrating International Women’s Day 2021, Softball Ireland are highlighting the profiles of our female Board Members who are key to the leadership and governance of our sport.

Our first proflie is Gillian Fitzpatrick, Softball Ireland Board Member who plays softball with Dodder Softball Club.

How did you get involved in Softball?
The media agency, Carat, holds an annual charity softball tournament in September. I took part in 2018 – my first intro to the game.

Why do you think Softball is such an inclusive sport?
It caters for mixed abilities brilliantly. It’s not a sport that relies on being the fastest and strongest – there are lots of different skills you can draw on. There’s a super social element too.

How can we get more women playing team sports after school?
There’s been a strong movement towards health and wellness recently and team sports are an important part of that. More women need to be aware of the likes of softball and reap the benefits of training and playing.

What motivated you to join the Softball Ireland Board?
I saw it as a great chance to apply the experience I have within media and advertising to promote the game. It’s also helping to deepen my understanding of softball in general.

How do we encourage more women to get involved in leadership in sport?
Better diversity at board and senior operational levels is key and has a positive knock-on effect. We all need prioritise getting more women visible in all aspects of sport.

COVID-19 Upate – February 2021

Island of Ireland Restrictions

In accordance with the restrictions as set out by the Northern Ireland Executive and the decision of the Irish Government set the Republic of Ireland to Level 5, all Softball activities inclusive of training continue to be suspended to at least March 5, 2021.

Please note that during this period no softball activities are covered by the Softball Ireland insurance policy. Please note that the suspension of activities inludes but is not limited to leagues, tournament, inter-team games, practices and training in any sized grouping.

Softball Ireland woud encourage our members to follow all public health guidelines and continue to work together to reduce the spread of the virus.

Softball Ireland continues to liase with Softball Leinster, Softball Ulster and Galway Tribes to plan and prepare for international tournaments, leagues and club tournaments in 2021. Updates will be issued to Club contacts in the coming weeks.

The Board wishes continued good health to all our members and their families.

The Co-Ed Slow Pitch National Team representing Ireland.

Sofball Ireland Slowpitch National Teams – Open Positions

Director of Slowpitch National Teams 

The previously advertised position will report directly to the Softball Ireland board and provide oversight for all Slowpitch National Teams operations including, but not limited to, programme finances, personnel (hiring, evaluations) and programme operations, team logistics (scheduling, programme needs). The Director will oversee, coordinate and evaluate all coaches and players and is responsible for overall team operations, while reporting directly to the Board of Softball Ireland. The Coaching staff of the Slowpitch National Team programmes will report directly to the Director of Slowpitch National Teams.

Slowpitch National Teams Head Coach

Softball Ireland are seeking a Slowpitch National Teams Head Coach who will be responsible for coaching Softball Ireland’s Slowpitch National teams (CO-ED and Men’s) to compete in European and World Cup competitions. The Head Coach will focus on the development, training and selection of the Slowpitch National Teams.

The job specifications for the positions are available below and candidates are requested to submit a cover letter and curriculum vitate to the Softball Ireland Secretary, Steve Trundle (secretary@softball.ie) by 5pm on Friday January 29, 2021.

Click Here to Download Director of Slowpitch National Teams Job Description

Click Here to Download Slowpitch National Teams Head Coach Job Description

Ashbourne Antlers Need Our Help

Leinster League’s Ashbourne Antlers Softball Club and their sister club Ashbourne Baseball Club are asking for our support in signing a petition (Click Here For Link To Petition) to protect the International Baseball Centre.

A motion is going before Meath County Council regarding the planning status of the land that the International Baseball Centre,home to the Ashbourne Antlers. The proposal is seeking to have this land zoned as residential.

Such a decision would open the possibility of the land being sold to a developer and Ashbourne Baseball and Softball Club being evicted. The club has invested a lot of time, energy and money into the venue which has become the premier venue for Baseball in Ireland since it opened. The venue is also home to the Antlers and has become a facourite venue for teams to travel to.

We would ask our members to support Ashbourne Antlers and Ashbourne Baseball club by signing the attached petition and sharing the link on social media and across your teams.

https://www.change.org/p/meath-county-council-stop-ashbourne-community-centre-from-being-zoned-residential?utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=custom_url&recruited_by_id=379048e0-1f11-0130-347c-38ac6f16d25f&fbclid=IwAR1DX6hG9LY-ApEC2ZzufxUjRLfaY8FlNWXVZTEtIPkj0w89VK-F7AARylU

Softball Ireland 2021 Board Appointed

At the Softball Ireland Annual General Meeting held via Zoom on November 29, 2020 the Softball Ireland Board for the 2021 Season was elected as follows:

– Colum Lavery (President – 2nd of 2 year term)

– Steven Trundle (Secretary – DB Packers)

– Massimo Lepri (Treasurer – Wicklow)

– Declan Carty (Board Member – Galway)

– Andrew Craven (Ulster Rep – Sliders/Chair of SU)

– Melanie Cunningham (Fastpitch Rep – Marlay/Chair of Fastpitch Ireland)

– Gillian Fitzpatrick (Board Member – Dodder)

– Amanda Ní Ghabhann (Leinster Rep – Renegades/SL Secretary)

– Matt Steerman (Board Member – Kegs)

Speaking following the election, Softball Ireland President Colum Lavery said “I am really excited to welcome the new Board members to Softball Ireland. We have a lot of work to do in order to continue growing Softball in Ireland and I am delighted we are joined on the Board by a number of returning Board members and new faces who will bring fresh ideas and lot of expertise. I am excited to see what we can achieve in the coming months and years.”

Colum added “I wish to thank Conor Sayles for all his efforts as Secretary for the last three years. Conor has helped manage and guide Softball Ireland with a calm hand and professionalism. I also wish to thank Reggie Clark for his time and commitment to the Board as the Softball Ulster Rep in 2020.”