Touring KIWI'S take on Academy Side in 'Furious Friendly'
Written on the 11 May 2017 by SWSAS
Camden's Macarthur softball complex was the venue for an international fixture between the touring New Zealand under 15's side and the South West Sydney Academy of Sport (SWSAS) under 17's boys. The size difference was notable and with the SWSAS side boasting five players, recently selected for NSW honours and a NSW Coach, it was potentially a mismatch. Well - the passion, grunt and enthusiasm shown as the Kiwi boys belted out the HAKA was a good sign they were here to play and it was Game On!
The weather had threatened to be the main challenge all week and the main diamond was never an option, but thankfully the rain held off long enough to commence play. Luckily our softball facilities have some all-weather pitches, but following a recent deluge, unplayable.
The New Zealand side, which are in Australia to compete in the Blacktown International Challenge, had been starved of training with rain wreaking havoc on their training plans. As a format for the shortened game was being devised, both sides agreed on a simple strategy we will play until its dark!
SWSAS Pitcher Jack Davies showing the skills required to deliver what could only be described, a 'Fireball'.
Three out equals' side away! Glad some things stay the same! That said, this version of softball is nothing like my recollection. It is fast, athletic, highly skilful and sometimes very powerful.
The early parts of the contest seemed quite even, but as the afternoon wore on the strength and experience of the SWSAS squad took control.
A series of 'out of park' home runs had them move away from their younger opponents and from that point on, they were not challenged. The 'smallish' crowd, mostly family, friends and local softball enthusiasts were very engaged in the game with a constant supply of applause, encouragement and advice being well received by these young talents.
Whilst on the sidelines I had the opportunity to catch up with the Academy's, Sports Program Manager James Watson. Watson who takes every opportunity to get out of the office was visibly excited about the talent on display.
"This is a great hit out for this team, it's not every day you get the chance to play an international 'friendly' on your home pitch. I just love this energy. Two teams getting primed for bigger things. The SWSAS group is really looking forward to the ClubsNSW Academy Games, the rivalries are pretty intense. It will be a solid test".
The ClubsNSW Academy Games is a target event for many SWSAS sporting squads and this year the Softballer's are making the trip to the Central Coast for the two day tournament. The prestige of being crowned NSW's best Academy team will be the team prize. As individuals, many of NSW's best players will be trying to further their chances of NSW team selection.
At the 1996 Summer Olympics, Softball was introduced as a sport for women. Since then the sport has gained much popularity with both females and males. However it was abolished from the 2008 Games.
Potentially signalling an Olympic demise. Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted to reinstate softball in the 2020 Summer Olympics, with separate men's and women's competitions. Staring SWSAS graduate Blake Jackson is very determined to compete for the Australian U-19 Men's team within the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Competition.
For more information about SWSAS Softball visit the Academy on www.swsas.org.au or telephone 4627 7622