The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) staged a new form of baseball that did not include gloves or bats for baseball's debut at the Friendship Games, which took place from 10-13 August in Bujumbura, Burundi.
The annual Friendship Games, organised by Peace and Sport in the Great Lakes region of Africa since 2007, is a trans-border multi-sports event which gathers up to 200 children from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, to promote peace through sport in underserved areas.
The baseball games played at the Friendship Games were based on the Sport Simple methodology, which consists of adapting sport to the social, economic and geographical environment in which it is being played. WBSC was inspired by "4 Esquinas", a game played in the streets of Havana, Cuba, as an informal version of baseball.
Delegates from the WBSC and from the French Baseball Softball Federation conducted workshops with instructors gathered from different areas of the country. Baseball demonstrations and games were staged for the participants and children.
"WBSC is honoured to have been a part of this very meaningful event, and we commend Peace and Sport for this much-needed initiative," said WBSC President Ricardo Fraccari. "The Friendship Games are a source of inspiration for the children of the Great Lakes region, and we are delighted to have been given the opportunity to introduce the basic principles of baseball/softball while helping bring joy and smiles across the participants' faces.
"Baseball and softball are played by millions of youth around the world and by people of all backgrounds, and it was particularly pleasing to learn about the speed and enthusiasm with which participants and children picked up the game. Bringing our sport to children throughout Africa and introducing exciting and fun new ways to experience our sport is key to helping us achieve our vision of building a billion-strong baseball-softball community by 2024. Africa is a very important location for the WBSC, where we are witnessing the sport being embraced and seeing increased participation levels."
Laurent Dupont, CEO of Peace and Sport, said: "The Friendship Games was a great occasion for Peace and Sport and WBSC to launch Street Baseball, a simple, cheap and accessible sport that can be easily played by youngsters from disadvantaged communities. We were proud to see that both organisations share the same vision about simple sport, meaning that sport can be adapted and made from basic materials in order to make it accessible for all."
Under the Peace and Sport umbrella, WBSC joined other International Federations involved in the Friendship Games, including the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), the International Boxing Association (AIBA), the International Table Soccer Federation, the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the World Karate Federation (WKF) and World Taekwondo.
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