Next week Scrap Yard Sports General Manager, Connie May, will return to Malta for a follow up and continuation of the introductory softball coaching course which she delivered with great success in June 2017

The success of Phase I of the Softball at Schools project, which the Ghajnsielem Redcoats launched last June with the support of the Ministry of Education and Employment, prompted the World Baseball & Softball Confederation to once again co-finance Phase II. Next week Scrap Yard Sports General Manager, Connie May, will return to Malta for a follow-up and continuation of the introductory softball coaching course which she delivered with great success in June 2017.

The Ghajnsielem Redcoats are trying to increase the popularity of softball in an effort to improve the rate of participation of girls in sports. The Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships project, Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS), has been very effective so far in this respect especially in recruiting support from important local and international entities. With the support of Education Department the Redcoats started the Softball in Schools initiative.

Thanks to the efforts of Mr Kevin Azzopardi, EO Physical Education, and the support of the Minister of Education and Employment, Hon Evarist Bartolo, PE teachers from Malta and Gozo attended an introductory softball coaching course in June. The World Baseball & Softball Confederation (WBSC) gave its full support to this initiative by sending coach Connie May to conduct the coaching course along with six starter packs for the PE teachers. With further support from USA Softball and Scrap Yard Sports four other top level coaches accompanied Connie May in Malta last June.

Following this coaching course PE teachers in Malta and Gozo have been introducing softball to primary school students at state schools during the current scholastic year. This was a tremendous development for this sport as well as for gender equality. Softball is the only team sport which was specifically designed for women and can be played coed at all ages. Baseball/Softball has also been included in the Sport Career Development Programme (SCDP) for the Gozo College Middle School. Students who are currently in Year 6 can choose to have baseball/softball lessons at Middle School starting this October. SCDP  aims to help develop elite baseball and softball players over a period of five years.

During this softball camp five primary schools in Malta will attend 90 min sessions each so that they will be coached by Connie May and her team which includes Lisa Norris one of the best fast pitch softball pitchers in the United States. The Redcoats will help out with coaches Tara Henry and Joseph Scicluna. The sessions will take place on Thursday and Friday, March 22 & 23, from 9am to 1pm, at the Centre for Physical Education and Sport, Hamrun. Each session will have skills and drills during the first hour followed by practice games.

This will be in preparation for a co-ed tournament which will take place at the same venue during the first week of May. The same five schools along with a team from Gozo will participate in this softball tournament. The team from Gozo will be made up of the best players who emerge from a tournament which will take place in Gozo at the end of May, between six participating schools from Gozo. For these tournaments each team has to have at least five girls out of the ten players on the field for gender equality.

The success of these events is important to ensure that the programme is extended into the next scholastic year with the incorporation of more schools. Softball at Schools would not have been possible if it was not for the support of the Ministry for Education and Employment, the WBSC, Scrap Yard Sports, and the Malta Baseball & Softball Association.

IGETS is co-financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. The Ministry for Education and Employment along with the Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport, and Voluntary Associations assist the Ghajnsielem Redcoats to meet the co-financing obligations of IGETS.