Girls Softball Series plays host to role models at Farnham Park

Fri 19 Jul 2019

The first-ever Girls Softball Series took place at Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex on 11, 18 and 25 June, with four teams taking part from schools in South Buckinghamshire and Slough.

The series was the focal point of a girls’ softball programme set up by BaseballSoftballUK in partnership with Rachel Hutchinson, South Bucks School Sports Partnership Manager, and Laura Brookstein, Manager of the Slough School Sports Network.
 

New opportunities

The aim of the project was to bring more 10-12-year-old girls into softball by highlighting the appeal of the sport and providing a fun, inclusive and social outlet for participation.

The programme began with sessions delivered in schools, notably at St Peter's Primary School in Burnham, where the girls had their first taste of softball. 

Coaches and facilitators were led by Jess Vernon from the Bracknell Baseball and Softball Club, and the first game day of the competition series was attended by GB Women’s Team player Chloe Wigington, who lives locally in Ascot, before she left the UK to take part in the European Women’s Championship in the Czech Republic, to be followed by an Olympic Qualifying Tournament in the Netherlands.

Chloe’s appearance provided excitement and inspiration, but all of the facilitators involved, including Chloe, Jess Vernon, Dan Patterson and Liz Warner, along with teachers Lucy Barker, Lauren Williams, Rebecca Miall and Vanessa Bryan, acted as great role models for the girls and highlighted the opportunities that softball provides to build confidence, teamwork and communication as well as sporting skills.

Results

The results of the three competition days were:

Challoners High School: 4 wins
Beaconsfield High School: 3 wins
St Peters School: 2 wins
Ditton Park Academy: 1 win
 

Long-term aim

For BaseballSoftballUK, growing the number of women and girls playing softball is a major long-term aim, and breaking down barriers to participation through an accessible and fun programme like the Girls Softball Series is something the organisation will certainly replicate.

BaseballSoftballUK South East Development Manager Patrick Knock plans to grow the programme in 2020 so that more schools are running softball clubs, leading to a bigger competition series.

There are also plans to progress from slowpitch to fastpitch softball, the Olympic format that will be played by women at the Tokyo Games next summer.

Comments

Lucy Barker, PE teacher at Beaconsfield High School, said, "I just want to say a huge thank you for the School Series -- the girls have absolutely loved it!  I’ve had a number of parents tell me how amazing it is to see their daughter involved in extra-curricular activity, something they don’t usually do!”

Rebecca Miall, PE teacher at Challoners High School, added, "I would like to say thank you to BSUK and all the coaches for providing such a positive experience for the girls.  We’re now at the point where we are organising our own school softball World Series and I have about 60 girls regularly playing softball here at school club.  So for them to experience the proper dirt fields and the facility at Farnham Park was great."

Jess Vernon, who led the facilitators for the sessions and the competition series, said, "The sport is almost brand-new to the girls, but the improvement has been massive. They're getting great!"

GB Under-16 player Megan Longman, who attends Beaconfield High School, cheered on her team from the sidelines.

"Playing for GB means everything to me,” Megan said. “It's everything I've always wanted and it's one of my biggest dreams to represent my country."

You can watch the full interview with Jess here as well as Megan's interview here.

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