BANGKOK - Softball will for the first time be played as part of the ever-growing World Student Games during the 24th edition of this biennial tournament with the much-awaited ball-game campaign pitching off tomorrow.
The roping in of softball in the 10-nation tournament, which features more than 155 countries, is seen as a last ditch effort by the International Softball Federation executive by using their global connections to ensure that the ball-game grows in leaps and bounds globally.
In the past, a global softball competition, under the auspices of the Federation of International University Sports (Fisu), had their own championships held between November and December.
This comes after the executive committee of the International Olympic Committee announced that it would decide the fate of the ball-game at the Olympic Games at its 2009 general assembly. For now, softball will be played for the last time at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Team South Africa are hoping for a good start in their opening match against Chinese Taipei at Srinakharinwirot University Softball Stadium tomorrow in the tournament.
South Africa are in Group A along with the hosts Thailand, Canada, Italy and Chinese Taipei. Group B consists of the United States, Japan, Australia, South Korea and the Czech Republic.
In the afternoon, South Africa have a date with Thailand. On Sunday, South Africa, which also includes former Simunye player Moses "Vasna" Molaba in their technical staff, take on Italy and Canada in the morning and afternoon, respectively.
"We are excited to be part of the first Fisu member countries to play softball at the World Student Games, our players are aware that we are not here in Thailand on holiday," said Glen Bentley, Team South Africa deputy chef de mission.
In volleyball today, the South African women's team meet Chinese Taipei, while the men's side will test their strength against Serbia, a new member country of Fisu after breaking away from Montenegro.
Tomorrow, the men's team will take on Ireland, while the women tackle France. Sunday's fixture has the SA men playing against Mexico with the women facing Italy.
Meanwhile, the Jerry Laka-guided women's national soccer team complete their first round programme against Great Britain on Sunday. In men's basketball, South Africa take on Turkey today). Angola meet defending champions the US.
lRamatsiyi Moholoa is in Thailand as a guest of Sassu.