We’re two months into 2024, and already the high-performance world is gearing up for the 2024 Paris Olympics, where many of world’s best athletes will compete this July. With baseball and softball absent from this year’s Games, you might think that this summer would be a quieter one for the Great Britain Baseball and Softball performance programmes’ Olympic aspirations, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. With last year’s IOC announcement that baseball and softball will return at the LA28 games, and an extra summer to work with, 2024 is shaping up to be a huge step forward for both programmes on the Olympic trajectory – a head start that few other countries will be afforded.

“This year marks the beginning of our Olympic Journey,” said Head of Performance Gary Anderson. “Every competition, every inning, and every pitch for our World Class Performance Programmes for the next four years is part of the larger goal: to compete with the world’s best in Los Angeles, and hopefully bring home a medal. The work to win and win well begins now.”


The Great Britain Women’s Senior team will kick off the performance calendar in 2024 at the end of June, heading to Oklahoma City for the second annual Royal Spark Challenge against the Oklahoma City Spark. Last year saw the inaugural series between the Spark and Lionesses, with OKC taking home the trophy after two hard-fought contests at the National Baseball & Softball Complex at Farnham Park, the first time a professional softball team had ever played in the United Kingdom. This year’s Royal Spark Challenge is set to top even that historic moment, with the USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium playing host to the two games on 27-28 June! The Royal Spark Challenge will tie in with the GB Women’s Selection Camp in Stillwater, Oklahoma on the campus of Oklahoma State University, with those details, along with Royal Spark ticket information, to be announced shortly.

The Royal Spark Challenge will again test the Great Britain Women against some of the best softballers in the world. As Head Coach Tara Henry put it, “In order to continue to develop, we must prepare against the highest level of talent, and the Spark have proven themselves to be just that. We can’t wait until this year’s Royal Spark Challenge!”

Following the Royal Spark Challenge, the Great Britain Softball U-15s will have the first crack at international competition when they head to Prague, Czechia for the U-15 Women’s European Softball Championships from 1-6 July. GBR will look to improve on their ninth-place finish at the last edition of the tournament, held in 2022.

The next team in action will take to the world stage, as the GB U-18 Women’s Softball Team will head to Brazil for the U-18 Women’s Softball World Cup – the first time GB’s U18s have had the honour to represent Great Britain in World Cup play. The U18s are coming off a fifth-place finish at the 2023 U18 European Championships that saw the team combine for 22 doubles, 11 triples and a .381 team batting average against the best teams Europe had to offer. Joining GB in Sao Paulo’s Group A are the hosts, along with New Zealand, Chinese Taipei, fellow European entry Czechia, and a team from the Americas yet to qualify. GB will play in the U-18 Women’s World Cup from 22-27 July.

The GB U-22 Women are next up to play, with the U-22 Women’s European Softball Championships from 5-11 August. With the host yet to be announced, the players on the U-22 squad this year will play an important role in the future of the programme; the oldest player on the roster will be just 26 years old when the 2028 Los Angeles games take place. The U-22s will look to build on their ninth-place performance in 2022 in Czechia which saw four players – Imogen Gie, Cameron McGinnis, Morgan Salmon and Jessica Chan – go on to make their Senior debut.

The youth of the Great Britain programme is one of the biggest strengths for both of the senior squads, especially with the Olympics four years away.

“At the 2020 Tokyo Games [held in 2021], the average age of the medal-winning teams was 28,” Anderson said. “At the 2022 Women’s European Softball Championship, our GB Senior Team’s average age was just 22 years old – putting our athletes right at their career peak for 2028.”

“The more opportunities we can get for our young athletes to play, especially together and against high level competition, the better,” added Anderson. “The U-15 and U-22 European Softball Championships, along with the U-18 Softball and U-23 Baseball World Cups this year are the perfect challenges to test our age-group teams.”

As the summer starts to fade into autumn, the two biggest competitions on the calendar will take place, played back-to-back on the schedule. First, the Great Britain Women’s Senior Team will make the short trip to the Netherlands for the 2024 Women’s Softball European Championships, played in Utrecht from 1-7 September. With the GBR Women coming off a World Cup performance in Ireland last year that saw them defeat the then-world-ranked number 3 (Chinese Taipei) and one of the teams that competed at the 2020 Tokyo Games (Australia), as well as a silver medal in the 2022 European Softball Championships in Barcelona, this competition will be an important milestone for the programme. It will also be the first competition for Great Britain Baseball & Softball that takes place during the 2028 Olympic Cycle.

As the European Softball Championship wraps, the GB U-23 Baseball Team will begin play in the U-23 Baseball World Cup, taking place from 6-15 September at the Shaoxing Baseball & Softball Sports Culture in China. Great Britain qualified for the World Cup with their best-ever, silver medal finish at the 2023 U-23 European Baseball Championships, with eight of the U-23 players also representing Great Britain at the Senior European Championships last year.

Drew Spencer, Head Coach of the GB Olympic Baseball team, reflected on the opportunity for Great Britain Baseball this, stating, “The opportunity to play in the Olympic Games is something every athlete has dreamt of at some point in their career. It’s the pinnacle of global sport and is a key focus for Great Britain Baseball this year, as our Under 23s team prepares to compete in the WBSC World Cup.”

Longtime Great Britain player and coach Jonathon Cramman will take the reigns of the U-23 team for the first time this summer, commenting, “This is a truly incredible opportunity for our players and programme. As we build towards the 2028 Olympics events like this will provide us vital experience of competing against the world's best and provide fantastic performance indicators.”

 “The coaching staff and I are extremely motivated to continue the proud tradition of excellence that Drew Spencer brought to this team and are working tirelessly to continue our upward trajectory,” Cramman continued.  “We will be the best-prepared team there, I can promise that, and look forward to taking the Olympic programme forward after the GB Women's fastpitch team kick-off the Olympic cycle off in the Netherlands."

Spencer added, “This competition is an excellent opportunity for Jonathon [Cramman] and our U23 coaching staff to undertake the process of preparing our players to compete against the world’s best, a challenge that our staff and our athletes relish. With the continued support from UK Sport, the National Lottery and the greater British baseball community, the 2024 U23s have a great opportunity to gain the experience and with it, the confidence they need to get us to the podium in 2028.”

Great Britain will be joined by fellow European entry The Netherlands, along with Australia, Colombia, Japan, South Korea, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei, and Venezuela.

2024 and the World Rankings


This year’s competitions take on added importance with their impact on the WBSC World Rankings, with each team offering an opportunity to earn points towards the overall programme position. The world rankings are calculated based on points earned by national teams in sanctioned competitions over a rolling four-year period, meaning that this year’s competition points will replace 2020’s in the ranking calculations. As Great Britain was unable to compete in the majority of competitions in 2020-2021 due to the United Kingdom’s COVID-19 restrictions on travel, GBR received just a small fraction of the points it would have normally earned over a two-year period, negatively impacting the rankings. This year’s competitions will go a long way towards improving GB’s rank in the WBSC table.

Entering the year, the Great Britain Softball programme is ranked 13th in the world, while Great Britain Baseball is ranked 18th – both at the highest position in programme history. You can view the WBSC World Rankings here.

The Olympic Trajectory

With the number of teams participating and method of qualification yet unknown for the 2028 Los Angeles games, every competition that Great Britain Baseball and Women’s Fastpitch compete in over the next four years will take on heightened importance. Neither Great Britain Senior team has competed in the Olympics before, with GB Women’s Softball missing out on Tokyo qualification by the slimmest of margins. While the ranking points on offer and the opportunity to win medals will be first and foremost at every competition, the opportunity to watch, test, and evaluate athletes in both programmes will be vital.

“We have in place great coaches and are recruiting the best athletes that are eligible to represent Great Britain,” said Anderson. “The objective for every competition it for Great Britain to be the best team we can be, physically, mentally, technically, and tactically. To have this schedule of competitions in the first year of the Olympic Cycle puts us on the correct trajectory to compete in the Olympics in four years’ time and gives us ample opportunity to both evaluate for the future and win in the present!”

Make sure to follow along with the Great Britain Baseball and Softball National Teams at the links below all year long, and we wish all our GB teams the very best this summer!

Great Britain Baseball: Facebook | X/Twitter | Instagram

Great Britain Softball: Senior Facebook | U18 X/Twitter | Senior X/Twitter | U18 Instagram | Senior Instagram | Tik Tok

Note to readers: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognises baseball and women’s fastpitch softball as male and female forms of the same sport and does not recognise any other forms of the sport. These are referred to as the World Class Performance Programme (WCPP) teams in the UK. While this article focuses on those WCPP teams, Great Britain is also represented internationally in men’s fastpitch softball, women’s baseball and both men’s and co-ed slowpitch softball and more information about those programmes and their summer schedules will be announced soon.

The WCPP includes the following teams:

Great Britain Baseball U18, U23, and Senior National Teams

Great Britain Softball U15, U18, U22, Senior Women’s National Teams