CEO’s update

As we approach the festive season, it is with great pleasure that we look back on a fantastic year of softball, including the launch of our new website.

 

Achievements in 2015

  • New websites:
    • Softball Australia
    • Homeplate
    • Social 7s
  • mySoftball Community Database and Online Registration
  • Member Benefits Program
  • New merchandise range
  • Softball Australia Business Network
  • High Performance Review
  • Down Under Series
  • Homeplate Newsletter
  • National Social 7s Day
  • Sporting Schools Program

 

Marketing

In partnership with Fox Sports Pulse, we are delighted to launch our new website, designed with a modern appearance and more user-friendly navigation. The launch coincides with our Member Benefits Program , which offers an extensive range of benefits and savings, including shopping and vouchers, travel and accommodation, leisure and entertainment, dining and fast food, health and beauty, home and lifestyle, events and ticketing. A $6 annual fee will return up to 40% off cinema tickets, up to 60% on travel and accommodation, 50% on meals and fast food and more.

In partnership with Greatrex Australia, we have developed a fantastic new merchandise range. The range is ready just in time for the upcoming summer of softball.

Television coverage of softball continued to grow in 2015 with viewership of over 116,000. Foxtel showed highlights packages of the Open Women’s and Open Men’s National Championship grand finals and the inaugural international event, the Softball Australia Down Under Series. The series featured four teams, including one of the best professional teams in the world, the Japan Toyota Red Terriers, who were crowned champions.

The Softball Australia Business Network was established to identify and unite like-minded business that appreciate, follow and have an interest in softball. Opportunities to join the Business Network are open to all prospective partners with a willingness to engage with, and support the softball community, be it via a sponsorship, required service or B2B relationship. .

For more information, contact Marketing Manager, Jim Dorash at jim.dorash@softball.org.au.

 

High Performance

In September, softball moved one step closer to inclusion into the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee announced that the diamond sports of softball and baseball were one of five sports recommended to the International Olympic Committee for inclusion. The official announcement for inclusion of these sports into the Olympics will be made in August 2016 ahead of the Rio Summer Games. This marks the first occasion where an organising committee has been given the unique opportunity to contribute to the design of the Olympic Program, thanks to Olympic Agenda 2020.

Softball Australia is developing a new generation “High Performance Program” for our Open Women in anticipation of inclusion into the 2020 Olympic Games. The philosophy of the program is athlete-centred, coach-led and performance driven. Our mission is optimal performance by Softball Australia athletes and coaches at international signature events, achieved through best practice and innovative high performance planning and delivery.

For more information, contact National Teams’ Manager, Tony Milligan at tony.milligan@softball.org.au.

 

Events

As always January saw the start of the National Championships for a hotly contested summer of softball. Our Open Men again played off in early March, and April saw the return of the U23 competition in Queensland.

The Friendship Series grew in numbers, with 17 teams making the trip to Blacktown, including 2 teams from the US college system and 2 New Zealand development teams. The increased competition allows this event to be a platform for our future national team representatives.

The inaugural Down Under Series took place in February, the first international softball event that this country has seen for many years, inviting down the Toyota Red Terriers for a series of matches against Aussie Spirit and Aussie Pride. The success of the event sees the event running for a second year in 2016, with the Japan and New Zealand national teams bringing their squads ‘Down Under’ for the ISF sanctioned event. Softball Australia aims to maintain this as a signature event for many years to come, falling in line with one of our key strategic objectives from 2014-2017.

The 2016 Summer of Softball starts in January.

For more information, contact National Events Coordinator, Richard Costantino at richard.costantino@softball.org.au.

 

Sport Development

Club Development

The Homeplate portal, a dedicated online club development resource, was launched in April. The portal supports affiliates in starting, running or growing their club or association, providing a one-stop shop of tools, templates, resources and best practice examples. To date, 166 clubs and associations have registered to the portal. In addition, Homeplate News, a monthly newsletter developed to communicate important information and initiatives directly to our affiliates, was successfully launched in June and is now being circulated to over 790 recipients, an increase of 512 since launch.

A proven strategy in helping affiliates improve how they operate is in face-to-face support. Softball Australia has invested in Association Coordinator positions around the country having part-funded positions in Qld, Vic, Tas, SA, ACT and NT and has signed MOUs with ACT and WA. This will see Softball Australia committing over $210,000 in funding of seven Association Coordinator positions, extending the sports capacity and reach.

Since June, 100 softball clubs and associations have completed the Club Health Check, which brings the overall total of Club Health Checks completed to 273. Seventy clubs and associations have put in place relevant actions to address key areas identified for improvement, bringing the total to 188. The work of Member States and Association Coordinators has contributed to this success. In addition, Softball Australia Club Development Internship Program in partnership with Deakin University has also continued successfully.

For more information, contact Club and Community Development Coordinator, Tim Hatzi at tim.hatzi@softball.org.au.

 

Product Development

Social 7s, Softball Australia’s new fast, fun and easy version of softball, was officially launched. This new format of the game is targeted to beginners, those who haven’t played softball for a number of years and those who would like to play the game in a more social environment. Social 7s has been played around Australia at associations, university competitions and corporate one-off days.

Saturday 29 August, National Social 7s Day, provided an opportunity for people around the country to try Social 7s for free. Fourteen associations across six states registered to be involved, with over 270 participants trying Softball Australia’s new version of the game.

In July, the Social 7s website was launched. The website provides a one-stop shop for all things Social 7s, including:

  • Showing competition locations and allowing teams and individuals to register to play
  • Allowing competition organisers to manage their competition, including viewing teams and individuals who have registered
  • Videos which show the game in action and explain the rules of the game
  • Links to the playing rules, scorecard and equipment and playing field requirements
  • FAQ pages for participants and competition organisers
  • An online shop, where all Social 7s products can be purchased

A finance and registration model was developed for Social 7s, providing incentive for affiliates to run their own competition to attract new members and generate revenue. An ‘Information for Affiliates’ booklet was created, providing information on how to run a Social 7s competition and the benefits of doing so.

Click here for more Social 7s competition and event highlights in 2015.

For more information, contact Product Development Coordinator, Shane Cantelmi at shane.cantelmi@softball.org.au.

 

Coaching

Coaching education is vitally important.  Whether it’s getting someone qualified to coach in Sporting Schools or developing the next National Team coach, the journey starts with someone sticking up their hand to take on the roll.  From there, education and support is key for that person to enjoy their role and enable capacity to grow and take on new members.

A revamp of the coaching framework guided by the ASC is currently being undertaken. New courses are being developed that offer flexibility and more online learning options. Content is being updated to keep up with current coaching philosophy and trends.

We have also finalised plans to redevelop the Softball Batter Up website with a video resource library, downloadable game cards, technique cards and a lesson planner that coaches and teachers can use to help deliver softball whether at clubs or in the Sporting Schools program. The resources will become more relevant in the schools system by communicating clear links between softball and the school curriculum. This will help teachers achieve specific learning outcomes through implementing softball as part of their school PE program.

For more information, contact Participation Coordinator, Jo Paez at joanne.paez@softball.org.au.

 

Sporting Schools

Softball Australia partnered with the Australian Sports Commission to take part in the 100 million dollar Australian Government initiative, the Sporting Schools Program. The program aims to get school children participating in more sport more often.  Funding can be used to pay for coaches, transport and equipment required for conducting a program.

Softball Australia has now set up a network of coaches around the country that are qualified for Sporting Schools. The more coaches we educate, and introduce to the program,the more capacity we will have to influence school children and give them a positive experience of softball. Effectively, the Sporting Schools program is now the starting point of our junior pathway. Marketing to the students and promoting club competitions to participants leads to transition into membership giving us great opportunity to realise our membership growth targets.

For more information, contact Sport Development Manager, Ben Utting at ben.utting@softball.org.au.

 

Participation

Between softball members, programs, events and school competitions, our research uncovered more than 120,000 people who participate in softball each year. With the introduction of the Sporting Schools Program, a great focus on coaching education, programs targeting teachers in schools and many more initiatives, we are well placed to grow that number.

In some states, there are up to 20,000 school children participating in school programs – making school students our biggest market segment.  Research has shown that it is easier to recruit a player who has had a positive previous experience in softball.  2015 has highlighted the fact that clubs must target local schools, invest time in recruitment activities and develop relationships with schools if they are to be successful in growing participation.

 

mySoftball Community

mysoftball Community, a suite of technology which supports the improved management of our sport at a club, association, state and national level was launched. To date, online registration numbers are currently at almost 11,000, which equates to approximately 50% of total summer registrations. The database has revealed a number of interesting facts, including:

  • Approximately 70% of our population are female
  • 39% of our population are under 19 years of age, and 37% are over 35 years of age
  • 85% of our members are the only ones at their address playing softball
  • 15% have multiple registrations at the same address  (9 addresses have 6 or more members)
  • 18% of over 18s are still studying at school or university. 51% have attained a certificate or diploma, and 31% have a degree or post graduate degree
  • 64% of over 18s are fully employed, 24% are part time employed, 5% are looking for work and the rest are either retired, or not looking for work

It is vital that our members use the online registration. Not only can we then guarantee the accuracy of the information provided, but we will simplify the process for administrators at club and association level.

For more information, contact mySoftball Community Manager, Matthew Horne at matthew.horne@softball.org.au.

 

Governance

Softball Australia welcomed Ron Gauci and Fiona Crawford as Directors on the Softball Australia Board. Ron brings a wealth of corporate knowledge and experience to the Board, which will enhance our endeavour to achieve our key objectives. Fiona is well known to the softball community, having played 223 games for Australia, including two Olympic Games and three World Championships. Fiona also brings over 15 years’ experience in the Human Resources industry to the Board.

Michelle Nancarrow resigned from the Softball Australia Board and we acknowledge her contribution over the past five years and her contribution to softball in general.

 

Recognition

At the 2015 Down Under Series, Softball Australia celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Australian Women’s Team’s victory at the inaugural Women’s World Softball Championship. Fifty years to the day, members of the 1965 team were honoured at a luncheon where they had the opportunity to share their memories with, among others, members of the current national teams.

Three worthy recipients were inducted into the ISF Hall of Fame: players Mike Harrow and Marissa Warburton (nee Carpadios) and umpire Neville Lawrance.

At the Softball Australia AGM in October, announcements were made of the induction of one Life Member and two Hall of Fame Members. Mike Hannelly (NSW) was awarded Life Membership, and Leigh Evans (Vic) and Mike Titheradge (WA) were inducted into the Hall of Fame, recognising each recipient’s longstanding and valued service to softball in Australia.