Four years of meticulous planning culminated in the final of the ninth Junior Women’s World Softball Championships, which took place at Turfhall Stadium in Athlone on 17 December 2011. The competition, which started on 7 December, saw players and officials from 16 different countries across all continents descending on Cape Town for the event.
The City of Cape Town partnered with the Western Province and South African Softball Federations to host the event and the championship competition, which is run under the auspices of the International Softball Federation every four years. Other participating countries include: Australia, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Russia, the USA and Zimbabwe.
In order to successfully host the softball tournament, the City embarked on an extensive refurbishment of the Turfhall Stadium. The overhaul saw the provision of additional seating for both fields, upgrades to the stands, construction of a new media facility, refurbishment of the umpire’s facility, improvements to the players’ change rooms and upgraded medical facilities. The 2 400-seater stadium was completed in 1999 and is the home of the Western Province Softball Federation. The 40 clubs affiliated to the Federation will benefit from the upgraded facilities in the future.
Ms Low Beng Choo, Secretary General of the International Softball Federation, said that the representatives of participating national teams rated the 2011 Junior Women’s World Softball Championships as the best-ever organised championship.
“National teams like the USA, who have played softball in countries across the globe, rated this event as unsurpassed in terms of organisation, professionalism and most of all the tremendous hospitality extended by all South Africans who they came into contact with everywhere they travelled in Cape Town,” said Choo.
“The City of Cape Town aims to build on this experience and success to ensure that Cape Town remains a local and international sporting destination of choice. The City is proud to have hosted this prestigious international event without incident and to have proved once again that Cape Town is capable of hosting such major international events – which provide the City with the opportunity to market itself, and South Africa as a whole, to an international audience,” said the City’s Mayoral Community Member for Community Services, Councillor Tandeka Gqada.
Team USA annexed the 9th International Softball Federation’s Junior Women’s World Championship title with a 4 – 1 victory over a resilient Japanese team in the jam-packed stadium. For the first two innings neither team gave an inch, and the fielding was performed with commitment and a hunger to be crowned champions. It was the powerful batting of the USA team that earned a double in the third innings. This signalled the beginning of the end for a disciplined Japanese team who finally buckled after giving the USA an unprecedented 9 – 0 whipping in the play-off stage on Friday 16 December 2011.
Chinese Taipei faced a resurgent USA outfit in the Bronze Medal Game earlier in the day. They finally succumbed to a 12 – 3 drubbing by the USA and were awarded the bronze medal in the championship.
USA and Japan have battled for the Junior Women’s World Championship title on six occasions, with Japan triumphant in four. USA was also crowned Junior Women’s World Champions in 2007 in the Netherlands. Japan and USA are now level in the gold medal stakes with four each, and China being the only other national team to have earned a gold medal in the nine JWWC events to date, since 1981.
The objectives of this event were to create a legacy and promote sport participation in Cape Town. Various development programmes were also hosted throughout the tournament as part of a build up towards the international event.
Results and summaries of the all the games and log standings are available at www.jwwc2011.co.za
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