Little League in the UK gains first European grant from Williamsport

Thu 27 Apr 2017

Little League International, as part of its Grow the Game Grant Programme, has announced a grant of $14,500 to support the development of youth baseball and softball in the United Kingdom.

This is the first grant made by Little League International to any country in Europe, and the funds will be used to help develop and grow Little League Baseball and Little League Softball programmes in the UK, as well as to educate Little League volunteers.

Stephen D. Keener, President and CEO of Little League International, said: "As the world’s leader in youth sports, Little League continues to work alongside baseball and softball federations throughout Europe to further develop and grow the Little League programme.  We are proud to be able to help out our dedicated volunteers throughout the United Kingdom with this grant, and are looking forward to the future of baseball and softball throughout the country.”

Little League introduced its Grow the Game Grant Programme in 2015 to help local Little League programs expand opportunity in their communities by providing financial assistance to ensure that all children have the ability to have a meaningful Little League experience.  With different grants earmarked for general local league improvement and to help leagues expand or establish Little League Softball, Little League Challenger Divisions and Little League Urban Initiative programmes, Little League allocates more than one million dollars each year for 7,000 local Little League programmes in more than 80 countries.  However, the award to the UK is the first grant made in Europe.

BaseballSoftballUK CEO John Boyd said: "We are delighted that Little League has decided to financially support our youth development plan.  We have been working very hard to establish Little League as our core youth competition model and to grow new leagues.  Now, we have strong plans and good financial backing in place to help youth baseball and girls' fastpitch reach the next level.  We would like to thank Little League for being such a helpful partner."

Funding purposes

One use for the funds awarded to the United Kingdom will be to run an education programme for Little League administrators in Britain, designed to create a deeper understanding of Little League's mission and programmes. 

Money from the grant will also be used to develop four new girls' softball Little Leagues and to form four new baseball leagues across the country.  In-kind support will also be provided by Little League staff to help create country-specific materials for promotion, education and league administration.

Development plans

John Boyd said: “Plans will now be put in place to implement these programmes over the coming year. The award will give a huge boost to our efforts to develop new youth programming for baseball and fastpitch softball through Hit the Pitch, and will help financially to solidify next year’s Coach Summit, extending it to include Little League-specific content, as well as funding training for Little League volunteers across the country.

The Little League grant will contribute towards overall development programme costs of $36,500 for the different projects, with the remainder of the funds being contributed by BaseballSoftballUK and the British government agency Sport England.

Earlier this year, Little League International presented the United Kingdom with a European Country of the Year Award for Softball, marking the work already undertaken to develop fastpitch softball for girls in the UK.

As a result of these efforts, girls’ softball teams run by LondonSports have affiliated to the British Softball Federation for the first time in 2017, a breakthrough in terms of relations between the BSF and the ex-pat community that drives much of the youth baseball and softball played in London.

About Little League

Founded in 1939, Little League Baseball and Softball is the world’s largest organised youth sports programme, with nearly 2.4 million players and one million adult volunteers in every US state and more than 80 other countries.  During its nearly 80 years of existence, Little League has seen more than 40 million honoured graduates, including political leaders, professional athletes, award-winning artists, and a variety of other influential members of society.  

Each year, millions of people follow the hard work, dedication, and sportsmanship that Little Leaguers display at our seven baseball and softball World Series events, the premier tournaments in youth sports.  For more information, visit the Little League website and follow Little League on Facebook (facebook.com/LittleLeague), Twitter (twitter.com/LittleLeague), and Instagram (Instagram.com/LittleLeague).

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