President Fraccari: Baseball-softball need to be at the heart of global COVID-19 recovery

Baseball5 and the WBSC U-12 Mixed Softball World Cup are two of a number of examples where the WBSC can play an important role in the global recovery from COVID-19, in alignment with many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations in 2015.

As countries, starting to recuperate from the coronavirus pandemic, begin to open up their economies and ease restrictions around the movement of people, we in the baseball-softball community must embrace the role that our global sport -- which connects to over 65 million players and 150 million fans in over 140 countries -- can play in shaping fitter and healthier societies, better placed to combating public health challenges.

Taiwan’s professional baseball league has been among the professional sports leaders in the COVID-19 response, as the league has opened doors to up to 2,000 fans per game -- helping the world to witness some normalcy in this unprecedented shutdown.

That is why it was reassuring to see that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recently signed a Cooperation Agreement reaffirming their commitment to leverage sport as a tool to improve health across the globe.

Over the last few months, at a time of heightened stress and social confinement, we have seen how sport has kept people fit and healthy, not only from a physical standpoint, but also a mental one.

I therefore want to reiterate IOC President Thomas Bach’s call on governments to "include sport in their post-crisis support programmes", to aid the prevention of non-communicable and communicable diseases.

At the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), we are confident that baseball, softball and baseball5 -- and the many benefits they bring -- will play an important role in the global recovery from COVID-19, in alignment with many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out by the United Nations in 2015.

By way of example, our newest discipline – baseball5 – is an excellent tool for promoting healthy living and gender equality (Goals 3 and 5). Easy to play on any surface and requiring just a ball, it is a fantastic way of getting people of all ages to enjoy sport, while the five-on-five game features a minimum of two athletes per gender on the fielding team.

In addition, our U-12 Mixed Softball World Cup also promotes gender equality (Goal 5) with an equal number of girls and boys playing on the teams.

WBSC’s development courses and webinars promote inclusive, quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all ages (Goal 4), while the WBSC is also implementing responsible consumption and production (Goal 12) guidelines for all staff and event organisers.

For more than a century, our sport has allowed people from all walks of life, but especially young girls, to play and stay in sport, tearing down social barriers and breaking through the glass-ceiling. Therefore, at such a critical time in human history, we as the global baseball-softball governing body must find ways of reinventing ourselves, so that our sport continues to grow and provide opportunities for people to lead fitter, healthier and happier lifestyles.

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