Surrey softball organizers ramp up international efforts

Softball City has hosted international fastpitch teams for years – here, Canada plays New Zealand during the 2012 Canadian Open – and more will be on the way for world championships in 2016. - File photo
Softball City has hosted international fastpitch teams for years – here, Canada plays New Zealand during the 2012 Canadian Open – and more will be on the way for world championships in 2016.
— image credit: File photo

Though Surrey was named the official host city for the 2016 Womens’ World Fastpitch Championships back in the fall of last year, it’s now about to get real for organizers.

A small contingent from the city’s organizing committee – including chairman Greg Timm – leave this week for Haarlem, Netherlands, the host site for this year’s 2014 world championships.

The group will be on hand for the entirety of the tournament – which runs Aug. 15-24 – and will spend time learning the ins and outs of the event from the 2014 organizers.

As well, the Surrey group – which has previously stated its goal was to make the 2016 tourney the biggest in history, in terms of participating teams – will spend time speaking with other prospective teams, who may be interested in coming to Surrey in two years.

“We are there to observe and develop some relationships with people… we’ve run a lot of big tournaments before, but nothing quite as this level, so we have a lot to learn,” Timm said.

“I’ll be quite a bit smarter when I get back.”

Timm is the president of the White Rock Renegades girls fastpitch association, and is the longtime chairman of the Canadian Open Fastpitch International Championships, which is held every July at Softball City.

In 2016, the world championships will replace the Canadian Open, and the latter event will return for 2017.

Surrey was named the winning bid for the event in October 2013, during the International Softball Federation’s congress in Cartegena, Colombia. In Colombia, the bid committee made a handful of presentations to the ISF throughout a weeklong, and a final vote among the ISF’s more-than-130 members was then held. Surrey beat out competing bids from Chinese-Taipei and South Africa.

Prior to the trip to Colombia, the group also traveled to the Czech Republic to meet with delegates there.

Canada has hosted the tournament three times – St. John’s in 1994, Saskatoon in 2002 and Whitehorse in 2012. The 1994 event was, to this point, the largest tourney on record, with 28 teams taking part.

Timm said many countries outside of the traditional softball powers likely think they don’t qualify for such a prestigious event. That isn’t the case, however, he said, and he will aim to change that perception during his trip.

“We’ll spend some time explaining the (qualification) rules, and things like that, and see if we can’t get a lot of those teams to commit to our event.”

As the next hosts, Timm and his team will also have a few official duties in the Netherlands. At the event’s closing ceremonies, they will take the tournament’s flag from Haarlem and bring it back to Surrey, where it will fly at a yet-to-be-determined location in the city until the 2016 games begin.

“When we return home with the flag, that is when we will be the official host site,” he said, adding that until now, organizers have tried to tread lightly, lest they steal thunder from the 2014 tournament.

“And that’s when the hardcore organization of it really starts. That’s when it becomes ours.”

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