Softball returns with a new name, mandate and a different look

World’s top female players back in South Surrey

By Gary Kingston, Vancouver Sun April 19, 2011

The world’s top female softball players are returning to South Surrey’s Softball City this July after a one-year absence and under a new tournament title.

The medallists from the 2010 world championship -the U.S., Japan and Canada -plus fifth-place Venezuela and sixth-place Australia will compete in the Canadian Open Fastpitch Championship’s International Division and play a double round-robin before heading into double knockout playoffs.

The July 9-17 championships will also include an elite Club Team division, plus the under-19 Future’s division and the under-16 Showcase division, which were contested last year.

The tournament replaces the old Canada Cup, a near annual fixture at Softball City since 1993 and an event bankrolled in large part by Glen Todd.

His stewardship of the hugely popular tournament, which annually attracted more than 100,000 fans, helped get him inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.

Todd, whose own kids had long ago stopped playing but who kept the tournament going in part because he felt an obligation to Softball Canada, is no longer involved.

He was angered last year when he was forced to cancel the tournament after the International Softball Federation changed the date and location of the world championships to Caracas, Venezuela.

“That really p—–him off, he saw that as a disrespect, a political manoeuvre to save somebody’s bacon at the ISF,” said Greg Timm, his former right-hand man and now chairman of the not-for-profit Canadian Open Fastpitch Society.

Timm noted Todd is also heavily involved in horse racing and wanted to “get on with his bucket list.”

Timm said the new society has “kind of refreshed” the tournament, re-structuring the host committee chairs, putting in place a proper organizational chart and bringing in “a more female face.”

Former national team players have been assigned as ambassadors to each national team and some will take part in a Softball Heroes speaking series.

In addition, says Timm, each of the national teams has agreed to run one half-day clinic for kids and to send one “member of the delegation to speak to parents and families about what the sport is like in their country.”

While Timm said the tournament’s key focus is promoting and creating opportunities for the youth component, “without those [national] teams, we’re just another schoolyard ball tournament. We need the cachet of the international teams here.”

In addition to the top six teams from worlds, Timm is hoping to have a university team from China and the Brazilian national team play in the Club Team division.

Squads from Peru and Colombia could also play in the Future’s division along with the Canadian team headed for the youth world championships in South Africa in December.

Timm said he’s had a great response from sponsors this year and is optimistic that the society will at least break even.

Timm also said he hopes to announce within the next month the tournament’s first title sponsor. And he coyly suggested there may be a few changes at the Softball City grounds “to try to make it a little different.”

Read more: Vancouver Sun

gkingston@vancouversun.com

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