06/22/2017 5:33 AM -
The Ghajnsielem Redcoats was established as a softball club in 2012 in Gozo, Malta, to provide opportunities for girls to play a sport. Although the club has very limited resources with no facilities where to practice and play the sport, and is based on an island where soccer is pretty much the only sport, it still managed to secure a grant of over €58,000 from the Erasmus+ Sports: Small Collaborative Partnerships programme for its project Inclusion and Gender Equality Through Softball (IGETS) and recruited Olympia Haarlem from the Netherlands, who are currently one of the strongest softball teams in Europe, and SK Princ Zagreb from Croatia, another top softball club, as partners.
The efforts of the Redcoats to promote gender equality, and the drive to introduce softball in schools as a way to increase the participation of girls in sports, garnered support from several important local and foreign institutions. There is full backing from the Education Department and the Ministry for Education and Employment for the Softball in Schools initiative. Through the involvement of the Malta Baseball and Softball Association, the Redcoats also managed to obtain assistance for this initiative from the World Baseball and Softball Confederation, the world governing body of both baseball and softball. The WBSC assisted by sending a top level coach to Malta to conduct a softball coaching course for Physical Education teachers so that they would be able to teach softball at school.
The US coach who was selected for this project was Ms Connie May, the General Manager of the Scrap Yard Dawgs from Houston, Texas, of the National Pro Fastpitch League. USA Softball, the governing body in the US, and the Scrap Yard Dawgs also decided to support and covered the expenses of four top level players who Coach May asked to accompany her during the trip. In this manner the Scrap Yard Dawgs from the United States met the Ghajnsielem Redcoats from tiny Gozo.
Having come to Malta and successfully helped with the implementation of Phase 1 of the Softball in Schools initiative and conducted a very productive training camp for the Redcoats, Connie May and the Scrap Yard Dawgs, along with the other entities who are supporting this developmental project are already making plans to provide the necessary support to see this initiative through and to make sure that the investment done by all stakeholders brings the results expected.