Three University of Brighton graduates are launching an organisation to tackle inequalities in sport.
Run the Bases (RTB) is using softball to address the issue by combing values and skills-based coaching to “empower and encourage young athletes to become leaders in sport and in life. Inclusion and gender equality are the goal and the target group is the female population.”
The three alumni, all graduates from the University’s Sport and International Development MA programme, are Sebastian Cirillo , from Italy, Kelly Smith from the UK, and Tara Henry, from the USA and a former UCLA softball player.
They were previously involved in the University’s Football 4 Peace, the pioneering project that uses sport to build cultural bridges and promote peaceful co-existence.
The three recently organised a pilot event in Gozo, Malta, in partnership with the Għajnsielem Redcoats, a local sports organisation offering softball, baseball and basketball to its members.
Offering advice to participants were Stanley Doney, coach of the Dutch softball team Olympia Haarlem, the European Cup Winners Cup Champions and Dutch Softball Coach of the Year, and Tahli Moore, a former National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA softball player in the USA.
More than 130 participants, aged 6-36, from two primary schools and four local softball teams joined in the event which was supported by Sport Malta, the World Baseball Softball Confederation and the European Softball Federation which donated equipment.
Some primary school children were playing softball for the first time. Tara Henry said: “The Redcoats’ great response during the goal setting sessions demonstrated the enormous potential that softball as a sport can have in breaking gender barriers.
“The event validated our mission and confirms the importance of offering athletes equal coaching in both skills and values. It also served as a useful starting point for academic investigation. RTB will use the results of research from the event to build a strong body of academic literature to disseminate educational materials in the field of Sport for Development.”
The graduates hope to partner the Redcoats and other organisations to meet their goal of becoming an international destination for sport. Tara said: “This is the first step towards building a sustainable system of talent development. This in turn would create many female role models and the ideal environment for promoting gender equality through softball.”