A recent program on the BBC on development of football (soccer) in China, about bringing high and overpriced pro-athletes to help get it started, said it hopes to have possibly 60 million playing the sport by 2020 and 50,000 schools organizing the sport.
Well, I remember back in early 2000 when Chinese sport officials were eager to get softball started in the school system now that it was an Olympic sport and based on winning a silver medal in the first Olympic Softball in 1996.
By 2005 unfortunately softball was dropped from the Olympics, and the plan to enhance development of softball in China hit a short circuit. Now that softball is back for the 2020 Tokyo Games, will China want to see another surge to see millions of young females seek new Olympic dreams?
In the last two World Master Games, softball has been close to football (soccer) in total participation and should be on the same target in 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand where the next World Masters Games will be played. Now that softball (and baseball) is back, it will be interesting to see what new development opportunities will arise.
By Don Porter
Don Porter is the former International Softball President for 26 years and the Co-President of the World Baseball-Softball Confederation. He serves in a number of positions with national and international Olympic Committees.