The excitement is palpable amongst Gambian coaches and players, as they get ready to take part in the first ever softball tournament in the region. The stage is set for 8 mixed teams from four different communities to meet on Monday 17th December at Kajabang community pitch. Children from the villages of Kartong, Madina Salam, Gunjur and Berending will be showcasing the skills and knowledge they have gained during this one week training camp with Run the Bases.
Invitations to the event have already been accepted by village elders and other high level community members, further increasing the level of prestige in the eyes of the community. Many neighbours will come together on this day, and be able to truly appreciate the incredible work done by coaches and players in these past five days.
Beside the bewildering level of ability these relative beginners are already displaying, the children have also been working on their communication, leadership and decision making by understanding their value both within a sport setting and in everyday life. These life skills were considered paramount by the Gambian coaches during the training period and softball sessions have been the ideal setting to start these conversations and initiate change. In this sense, it has been important to have a strong female representation of players throughout the camp, compared to the relatively small presence they may have in other aspects of society.
At the same time, the natural athleticism of the local population has meant that the level of softball is already extremely competitive for their age. As remarked by most of the foreign coaches, “they have come such a long way in such a short amount of time”. This truly has been another incredible experience for the Run the Bases team in The Gambia, one which will help set the foundations for the years to come. We are firmly convinced that softball will touch these communities like so many before them, and highlight the cooperation, hardworking nature and natural ability that this country is so incredibly blessed with. As the sun sets on the first Run the Bases camp, the unifying and equalising power of softball looks set to stay, and radiate in these communities for years to come.
/Picture: Caylee Hankins/