Through ERASMUS+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships, for a project aimed to improve gender equality. The project titled Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS) will bring together three softball clubs coming from different parts of Europe – Ghajnsielem Redcoats from Gozo, Malta, Olympia Haarlem from the Netherlands, and Softball Klub Princ Zagreb from Croatia. It will last for two years, the project involves the exchange of best practices relevant to gender equality in sports, efforts to encourage youths to play softball and sports in general, and to increase the participation rate in sports, especially among women and girls by working with key stakeholders. IGETS aims to increase the capacity-building of the three respective organisations and staff. The project also aims to create a lasting network of cooperation among the project partners. IGETS includes four transnational activities along with activities implemented by each partner in their respective country spread over two years.
The Project Design
In the first transnational activity coaches from the three clubs will meet in Gozo, Malta, to explore ways how to get children as young as four years old to participate in sports. The coaches will observe how the Ghajnsielem Redcoats manage to have a high participation rate in the 4 to 9 age group. Three highly successful programmes of the club, ACTIVE START – YOUNG MULTISPORT ATHLETES, FUNDAMENTAL SKILLS ACADEMY, and #BEACTIVE will be studied. During the visit to Gozo the coaches will also conduct practice sessions for the youth softball team of the Redcoats, including specialised practice sessions for pitchers, in order to enhance capacity.
In the second transnational meeting, the representatives from the three clubs will meet in Haarlem, the Netherlands. The main objective of this meeting will be to continue to work on capacity building especially insights for pitching coaches. There will be practice sessions for pitchers as part of the pitching coaching clinic. Another objective of this activity is to study the administrative side of running a softball club and explore ways to enhance the running of the organisation including methods to generate funds.
The third transnational activity will be held in Zagreb, Croatia. This will be a joint softball training camp for the three U17 teams of the participating clubs including a triangular tournament. The principal goal of this activity is to explore ways to keep teenage players engaged in this sport so that they continue to play softball even while they attend post-secondary education or after they start working.
The final transnational meeting will be a conference for the project partners with the participation of members of their respective associations and officials of the European Softball Federation. During this conference the results of the project will be announced and a document will also be presented to the European Softball Federation for further dissemination to the associations affiliated with it and their respective clubs. In this manner the findings and recommendations that will result from the IGETS project will be communicated to everyone associated with fast pitch softball throughout Europe.