June 13, 2005 will be “World Softball Day,” International Softball Federation (ISF) President Don Porter declared today. The date coincides with the day (in 1991) when the announcement was made that softball would be added to the program of the Summer Olympics.
“Throughout 2005 we’re celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first-ever world softball championship,” Mr. Porter said, “which makes this the right time to celebrate the day that our sport became a part of the Olympic program.” The first world softball championship, played in February of 1965 in Melbourne, Australia, featured a women’s team from each of the following five countries: Australia, Japan, New Guinea, New Zealand, and USA. The host team won the title.
Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Japan, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, and USA competed in softball’s first appearance on the world’s stage at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, and the sport has made successful appearances thereafter in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and last August in Athens, Greece. Softball will next be contested at the Games when Beijing, China, serves as the host in 2008.
The athletes who have played in the first three Olympic Softball competitions are being asked to be visible as an ambassador of softball on the newly declared special day for the sport.
The ISF is encouraging all boys, girls, men, and women to get out and play softball this June 13. Furthermore, they’re asking anyone who organizes a game, event, or tournament specifically for World Softball Day to e-mail the details to the ISF (firstname.lastname@example.org), who will list everyone’s activities around the world on their official website, www.internationalsoftball.com.
The national governing body for softball in the 126 countries that are members of the ISF are also being instructed to put an emphasis on promotion of the sport that day in their nation. Mr. Porter is also encouraging educational institutions around the world to formalize an agreement on June 13 to adopt the ISF-initiated “Softball In The Schools” program into their curriculum by contacting the national governing body for the sport in their country.
Furthermore, the ISF president is asking media outlets around the world to devote some of their sports coverage to softball on June 13.
The announcement on June 13, 1991 was made in Birmingham, England during the 97th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session, where Mr. Porter and ISF Secretary General Andy Loechner were both in attendance.