| Arena softball being played in the Netherlands.
ARENA SOFTBALL TAKING OFF
On all continents around the globe, softball is actively being played every day by boys, girls, men, and women. The sport knows no limits when it comes to the age of its participants. And since the game has worldwide interest and participation, the International Softball Federation has worked to ensure that there is something for everyone.
Since it was the discipline played at the last four Summer Olympics (2008, 2004, 2000, and 1996), fast pitch would appear to be the most popular form of the game. However, it is widely known that slow pitch has a tremendous playing population as well – including at the senior level (i.e., ages ranging from players in their 50s to even those north of 70 years old).
Modified pitch has its place in enough countries that at the end of June there will be another edition of the annual Champ of Champs tournament in Aruba, wherein teams from nine countries are expected to participate.
Other disciplines include wheelchair softball and beach softball, plus a version of the game for the intellectually disabled, but it’s arena softball – an indoor version of the game – that particularly seems to have momentum.
“There are a number of countries playing arena softball,” ISF President Don Porter said. “Some of them have national championships and there’s even the annual Indoor Cup that features international competition every January in the Netherlands.
“When I was just at the ANOC meetings in Moscow I spoke to several people about getting arena softball started in their country and they were very receptive to it.”
Mr. Porter explained that there are many benefits to arena softball.
Cold weather making it prohibitive to play the sport outdoors is an obvious reason. An indoor facility then makes it possible for participants to play softball year round and continue developing their skills.
A lack of traditional (outdoor) softball facilities doesn’t deprive individuals from taking part in the sport thanks to the indoor version.
Arena softball also offers cities and towns with unused indoor facilities to keep their building functional rather than sitting vacant.
The ISF president added that, “I can even see it being a solution for people who for whatever reason might not be able to play outdoors” (religious or medical restrictions, for example).
Regardless of the scenario, a wave of momentum seems positioned to carry arena softball to great heights.
Celebrating inside the facility in
Enköping are the 2012 Swedish Softball Indoor Champions. (Photo by