May 13, 2017 – Olympia Haarlem Sports Facilities, Haarlem, Netherlands
Phase I of the IGETS project involved two transnational meetings, the one in Gozo held last March and this one held in Haarlem. During these first five months of the implementation of the Erasmus+ Sports; Small Collaborative Partnerships project the main focus was capacity building for the three partner organisations. The second phase involves using the knowledge gained to improve the skills of the players of the three clubs. Phase II of IGETS will also see a push to address the other important objectives of the project, such as inclusion, increasing awareness about gender equality in sports, addressing the lack of media coverage of female teams and athletes, and efforts to reduce gender inequality in sports in the respective countries of the three partners.
During the final meeting between the three partners in Haarlem there was a thorough evaluation of the success of implementing phase I of the project. With the main focus so far being capacity building the consensus was that the three partners have benefited from each others knowledge and experience coaching children as young as 4 years and older. The 2nd transnational meeting with the topic of The Deepening – Softball Skills & Drills managed to introduce to the partners a new style of softball pitching along with many drills and coaching techniques which will certainly help to make them better softball coaches. The clubs now need to assess their respective players so that the positive impact of the project on the level of coaching of the three partners during the course of the project could be quantified.
For the second part of the concluding meeting the focus shifted on implementing Phase II of IGETS. A calendar of activities will be set up for the rest of 2017 which will incorporate five activities by each of the three organisations. Each club will conduct surveys to assess the level of awareness of the general public about gender equality in sports in general and another one which covers gender equality in the sports media. Similar surveys will be done to assess the level of awareness about gender equality among the European softball community. There are plans for a mentoring program to start in each club whereby players from the senior team will mentor a player of the youth teams. This will encourage volunteering while at the same time help the athletic development of the younger players.
The final topic of discussion was the 3rd transnational meeting scheduled for July 2018 in Zagreb where a training camp and a triangular tournament will be held for the U17 softball teams of the three partners. The dates were set as the visitors will arrive in Zagreb on Monday, July 23, and depart the following Monday. Although the training camp and the tournament to close will be focus of the meeting in Zagreb, there will also be a forum for the three sets of players which will try to address the issue of how to keep youth engaged with the sport of softball once challenges of life in university, marriage and parenthood emerge. One of the objectives of this training camp and of IGETS as well is to foster friendships among the officials, players and supporters of the three partner clubs. Activities will also be organised for the teenage players of the three teams to encourage friendships through softball.
The final activity of this transnational meeting was attending a top-of-the-table clash between 1st placed Olympia Haarlem and 2nd placed Sparks Haarlem. Olympia is the current holders of the ESF Women’s Cup Winner’s Cup while Sparks won the Women’s Premier Cup last summer, which is the top honour in European softball. These were two close high level games as expected. Olympia won both games in dramatic fashion, with the second game coming from behind in the final inning to win in walk-off style. Eva Voortman was the winning pitcher in both games. This was the Hollywood ending to what were a very productive four days in Haarlem.
Disclaimer: This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.