BSUK lends support to 2018 Active Workplace Challenge

Mon 8 Jan 2018

By Bob Fromer

Many people make New Year’s resolutions about becoming more active and fit – and the Workplace Challenge programme, run by the County Sports Partnership Network, is picking up on this by running an eight-week campaign, from 8 January to 4 March, to get people more active in workplace settings.

BaseballSoftballUK is fully supporting the campaign, as we have a history of engaging with The Workplace Challenge as part of the competition programmes they run across a variety of sports.   

The Workplace Challenge concept derives from two basic facts: that most people spend around 60% of their waking hours at work, and, as a whole, we are 20% less physically active than people were in the 1960s.

The period from January to March might not be the ideal time for companies, organisations and their employees to be outdoors playing softball or baseball – but when the weather warms up, our sports will be an important and growing aspect of the Workplace Challenge offer.


Company softball history

Slowpitch softball has had a long association with workplaces in the UK.  Beginning in the 1980s, company softball teams were the mainstay of local softball leagues in places such as London, Bristol, Nottingham Manchester, Leeds and Edinburgh. These leagues were seen -- and still are -- as a great way for colleagues to socialise and relax after a day in the office.

Although most softball leagues around the country now have a higher percentage of open teams, the mixed and very social aspects of company softball are still important to hundreds of companies up and down the country, providing opportunities for staff to build relationships, improve communication and develop teamwork away from the pressures of the workplace.

In London itself, a number of thriving company softball leagues still operate, such as the London Advertising Softball League, the City Bankers Softball League, the London Legal League, the London Charities League and others.

As a co-ed sport which few British people will have played before, softball acts as a leveller for all involved – a common and shared experience.


Softball and The Workplace Challenge

In recent years, the Workplace Challenge programme, delivered by BaseballSoftballUK, has become a great outlet for companies to engage with softball as a mixed-sex recreational team sport, usually played by teams in which five men and five women take the field.

The sport is seen as a great way for work colleagues to get outdoors to take up a new challenge, and companies in Bristol, Birmingham, Leicestershire, Surrey, Suffolk and Durham have experienced softball for the first time in recent years through the Workplace Challenge programme.

In August 2017, Bristol became the latest area to offer Workplace Challenge softball, when six teams from local companies got together at the end of August to give the sport a go in partnership with Wesport, the County Sports Partnership for the West of England area.

Teams from the Lloyds Banking Group, Close Brothers, Cadence Resourcing, Inside Asia Tours and two teams from the North Bristol NHS Trust first received an introduction to the sport, learning the skills of batting, catching, throwing and baserunning under the guidance of BSUK-trained Activators from the Bristol Softball Association, and a week later they started a round-robin competition.  You can read the full story here.  

The previous year, in Birmingham, BaseballSoftballUK and Sport Birmingham put together a package of monthly events from April through September to help Birmingham companies “Hit the Pitch” by playing softball and networking with other local businesses.  The full story is available here.  

Before that, successful Workplace Challenge softball programmes were run by BaseballSoftballUK and the local County Sports Partnership in Leicestershire and in Guildford.


Getting involved

Chris Rawlings, Head of Development at BaseballSoftballUK, says that “since we have struck up our partnership with the Workplace Challenge programme, we have worked hard to support its aims through our sports.  Company softball has a strong and proud tradition in the UK, dating back to the 1980s, and we think that slowpitch softball, in particular, can really add something new and fresh for workplaces concerned with their employees’ staff welfare or seeking to develop and build relationships while having a great time out on the field.”

Chris explains more about BaseballSoftballUK’s company softball programmes in this video clip.

Businesses or organisations looking to get involved with company softball through the Workplace Challenge programme should contact their local County Sports Partnership or contact BaseballSoftballUK directly at hitthepitch@bsuk.com.

Through its Hit the Pitch programme, BaseballSoftballUK can run introductory sessions for new players, providing equipment and trained Activators to provide a great experience for those that take part. 

That will be followed by a friendly competition programme, with a social mix of play and rest, to create a perfect sporting environment for employees to get physically active, as well as network, bond and have a lot of fun!

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