OPINION: Softball New Zealand, take a bow.

The announcement that you’d managed to set up a new affiliation with Little League was nothing short of a guaranteed investment for future generations of White Sox players.

For those who missed it, Softball NZ announced a new relationship with the Little League ‘Junior’ Division which will see one team from New Zealand attempt to qualify for the Little League Softball World Series in the US each year.

The Under 15 Girls National tournament now has extra incentive besides becoming age-grade national champions, with the winning region’s team qualifying to compete at the Asia – Pacific Qualifier in Singapore next June.

Should the team win, they will then progress to compete in Washington in the Little League Junior Division World Series.

Let that sink in for a second.

Every year, 12-15 girls from our little ol’ country get to gain international experience and even a chance to impress in the US at the under 15s age grade.

The knowledge, skills and pride that are going to come from an opportunity like that can only strengthen the game here – especially with Baseball NZ announcing their ABL team, but that’s for another day.

Today is all about what that pathway can mean for our next generation.

Not only do they gain all the previous experiences written about but they get a chance to impress on the world stage.

Should our little Kiwi team make it all the way to Washington (which they absolutely can), all matches in the Little League World Series are streamed and televised by sports television network ESPN.

That’s international coverage with scouts from US high schools and universities surely in attendance as well.

I tip my hat to those who have already paved their own path to college ball in the US without this chance but imagine having a small, constant stream of girls getting picked up to dedicate 3-4 years of their lives developing the game we all love to then come back and don the silver fern.

It’s a lot of wishful thinking and imagination, I know, but the big thing is this – three months ago, it wasn’t even there.

Softball NZ has delivered this path and for that you can’t help but be impressed so once again, take a bow.

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