The Japan Softball Association (JSA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the French Baseball Softball Federation (FFBS) pledging to support the French national team’s continued development and the long-term expansion of softball in France.
The cooperation will begin this week, as the FFBS participates in a first-of-its-kind observer programme during the Japan versus United States All-Star Series that begins in Tokyo today. The observer programme will give France’s national team players, coaches and administrators a chance to learn from their counterparts as World No. 1 USA take on World No. 2 Japan in a three-game series. Games will be staged at the Tokyo Dome, Shellcom Sendai and finally at Fukushima Azuma Stadium, one of the baseball-softball venues of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The MOU, which n° 1 recital is “Both JSA and FFBS desire to have the status of baseball and softball retained as Olympic [events] for the 2024 Olympic Games to be held in Paris, France”, will see the JSA provide its expertise to help continue the upwards trajectory of France’s national team, and in the long-term better equip the FFBS to grow the sport at the elite and grassroots levels.
Under the agreement, the JSA will annually send teams, players and officials to France to hold warm-up and exhibition games with teams from around Europe, and in particular France. These events will be coordinated by FFBS. The French federation will also welcome Japanese coaches, who will help to improve targeted technical and tactical skills at the French national team level.
Speaking after the signing ceremony in Tokyo, JSA President Hiromi Tokuda said:
“The JSA is eager to play its part in the global development of our sport by helping our friends at the FFBS fulfil softball’s enormous potential in France. This MOU formalises our commitment to share best practices and ideas with colleagues in the global softball community. It is an honour to welcome France’s promising young team to Japan, and we hope to give them many wonderful experiences of Japanese softball to take back to their clubs and communities in France.”
FFBS President Didier Seminet said:
“We are proud of the work we have done to develop our national teams and climb the world rankings over the last few years. This cooperation agreement with Japan, beginning with the All-Star Series observer programme, is a great opportunity to see the world’s best in action and drive our own standards higher as we look to compete with Europe’s top teams.
“Just as importantly, this experience will enhance our talent identification, youth development and community programmes so we can sustain the exciting growth of baseball and softball in France.”
World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Secretary General Ms. Beng Choo Low, who attended the MOU signing in Tokyo, said:
“This spirit of collaboration between world-leaders like Japan and up-and-comers France is hugely encouraging, and characteristic of our inclusive, global sport. The WBSC is building a billion-strong global baseball-softball community, and growing our sport across Europe is an absolute priority for us. We hope to find many more opportunities for cooperation between traditional baseball-softball powerhouses and emerging nations in the future.”