BSUK submits entries for Community Sport & Recreation Awards

Thu 11 May 2017

BaseballSoftballUK has submitted two of its development programmes for consideration in the 2017 Community Sport & Recreation Awards, hosted by the Sport and Recreation Alliance (S&RA).

Projects can be entered in a number of categories.  BSUK has submitted its development of a national Carluccio’s Softball League in the Innovation category, and its work with the LGBT community in London and Manchester in the Social Value category.

Winners will be announced and honoured at a ceremony on 11 July in London.

The Community Sport & Recreation Awards have been running since 1993, and reflect the S&RA’s belief that grassroots sport and recreation plays a huge and important role in the lives of millions of people across the UK, providing a diverse mix of opportunities for people of all backgrounds and abilities to stay healthy, develop new skills, make lifelong friends and have fun.

Innovation Award​

The Community Sport & Recreation Innovation Award is given annually to a new initiative or programme that drives both participation and frequency and actively introduces underrepresented groups to sport or physical activity.

BaseballSoftballUK has been partnering with the national restaurant chain Carluccio’s over the past two years to deliver benefits and improvements to the company through a national slowpitch softball programme. 

The programme, run through Hit the Pitch, BSUK’s national participation programme, aims to improve staff wellbeing and to reduce absence and staff turnover.  The Carluccio’s softball programme impacted over 600 staff in 2016 through a national schedule of softball matches and events.

Carluccio’s has a varied workforce with many nationalities and religions represented.  Participation levels in this kind of group are significantly lower than the national average, so providing a new and inclusive activity was an important way to engage them.

The programme was planned, organised and delivered through Carluccio’s Graduate Trainee Managers, a cohort of 12 new staff that come into the organisation each year.  By working through the Graduate Trainee Managers, the softball programme was embedded into the structures and systems used by Carluccio’s to run their business on a daily basis.  Meanwhile, the softball programme became a management training programme in its own right, allowing the Graduate Trainee Managers to access all staff (right up to the CEO and COO) and all the company’s systems to deliver a relevant and meaningful staff welfare programme.

Over 30 staff teams played in 2016, formed either from staff within individual restaurants or regional amalgamations of staff, and they took part in a series of softball events staged across the country.  Venues included Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Farnham Park (near Slough), Brighton and London.  Teams typically came together at central venues for an evening of softball, with Carluccio’s laying on food and refreshments for staff at each event. 

As well as staff from the same restaurants building better relationships by playing softball together, the regional events enabled middle management from Carluccio’s to build relationships with staff from across their operating areas.  Meanwhile, Carluccio’s teams were able to utilise Hit the Pitch website functionality to inform, celebrate and share their successes.

Social Value Award

The Community Sport & Recreation Social Value Award is given annually to a project that uses sport or physical activity to address social problems by bringing the local community together.

Softball in the UK has a long history of being a welcoming and inclusive sport for members of the LGBT community, and this is supported by a survey carried out by BaseballSoftballUK in 2016, which suggested that 14% of softball players identify as LGBT, compared to roughly 8% of the population as a whole.

While LGBT players are spread throughout the regular playing community of more than 24,000 in cities and towns around the UK, BSUK’s direct work with the LGBT community has taken place primarily in London and Manchester.

In London, BSUK provides direct support to the London Raiders, a predominantly LGBT softball club founded in 1994, whose members range from experienced to brand new players and whose teams run the gamut from competitive to recreational. The Raiders march annually to represent softball at London Pride events.

The Raiders have grown to over 130 members, and the emphasis within the club is as much on fun and socialising as a community as it is on playing softball.  In addition to softball training and games, a wide range of social events are on offer, including a pre-season Meet the Raiders get-together aimed at new participants.

Meanwhile, BSUK has been working with Pride Sports ( in Manchester for over four years, and the two organisations have brought softball to the LGBT community through local events such as LGBT History Month softball sessions, Pride Games and Sports May.

This will be the third year that BSUK will be running the LGBT Charity Softball Tournament in partnership with Pride Sports.  The tournament grew from six teams in 2015 to nine in 2016, and 2017 should be the best year yet, with more funds raised for charity.

BSUK provides all equipment necessary for new teams, and fundraising activities will be organised throughout the day for the charity chosen for 2017 by Pride Sports.

Early in 2017, BSUK looked at the concept of forming an LGBT Advisory Panel to widen the scope of its work, and in March, applications were requested from the baseball and softball community as well as from other interested people.
After a selection process the members of the newly formed Panel had their first meeting on 2 May. 

The purpose of the LGBT Advisory Panel will be to set the strategy for BSUK's LGBT work and to monitor and evaluate BSUK's effectiveness in delivering this strategy.  In addition, the Panel will help to draft relevant policy to allow BSUK to better promote and deliver this work.

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