European baseball needs to be seen

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9 European citizens out of 10 don’t know that baseball/softball is played on the Old Continent. Sometimes they don’t even think about its very much existence. As a matter of fact, you need to be seen to exist in people’s mind, as well as in business partner’s ones.

Video recording of, if not all, at least major CEB competitions is vital to the promotion of the game in Europe. It does not only help players live their passion and follow their national teams and favorite clubs. It also creates financial revenues that can not only compensate production costs but even generate income.

It has been so far nearly impossible for baseball fans to see their favorite team or nation playing, and when possible only with limited access – mostly regional.

A TV production can be cost intensive depending on which station is transmitting the program but there are many options to make European Baseball more visible for fans, media, sponsors and the public in general. Modern techniques allow for high end online production at reasonable budgets.

This issue is important to not only give the teams and our beloved game visibility but also to attract possible sponsors in the future to reach a bigger audience, Europe wide and even more.

 

Development: the key of European Baseball & Softball’s future

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Development is key to any company’s life expectancy. Everyone knows that. It doesn’t get any different when talking about non-profit organizations.

If you don’t work on growing your numbers and skills then nothing positive will comes out. You just can’t count on things to happen.

This is something the Francophone Baseball & Softball Association that I preside over also has understood. Less than two years after its birth AFBS already has provided some countries such as Tunisia with umpiring clinics and has just been granted 53,000€ by the European Union to train umpires in European Francophone Countries. Two beginners’ clinics are already set – February in Bulgaria, March in Lithuania – and more are to come. For any information, please send an e-mail at julianelaporte@ffbsc.org.

AFBS is also working on an U12 baseball tournament in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, during the 2017 Francophone Games, looking at any funding opportunities to help kids leaving the dream. That’s what the French Baseball & Softball Federation did in 2015. With a silver medal at the 2014 U12 European Baseball Championship, France qualified for the 2015 U12 Baseball World Cup in Taïwan. Shall we say no to these kids because we didn’t have enough money ? We did what was needed and collected the 10,000€ we were missing through a crowd-funding project. Nothing is impossible to a willing heart.

Under Didier Seminet’s leadership the French Baseball & Softball Federation experienced a constant growth, rising from less than 9,000 members to 12,675 by the end of 2016, also generating more than 250,000€ of positive financial outcome.

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The vast majority of National Federations in Europe is in need for support and leadership for the future growth. This is a major topic CEB, as well as ESF of course, needs to take care of.

It is time to move in the direction to improve Baseball Europe together with various partners in politics, international stakeholders and professional companies. CEB needs to become a supportive regional leader for its members with way more duties than just organize some tournaments every year, which are so far even mainly economical unbalanced, and also just administrate the confederation. It is time for more for Europe.

With combined forces, involving everyone that is really willing to help to improve our sports in Europe, and with leaving behind personal interest and targets there is a big potential, which we finally need to use or we will further loos opportunities.

More to come about how CEB can grow its income.

Didier Seminet answers the questions of Francophone media Francs Jeux

Francs Jeux is the first media dedicated to sport in the Francophonie.

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Francs Jeux: Why are you running for CEB President ?

Didier Seminet: We need a project and a new dynamic to help grow the game of baseball in Europe and step it into the limelight.

The French Baseball & Softball Federation is one of the few to grow in Europe. It has a vision and ambition. We are an open group of National Federations to think that a new momentum is needed for CEB by assembling a team and overhaul the way our sport is organized to make it more competitive and attractive in Europe.

What is your opinion about the current situation of CEB and Baseball in Europe ?

There is no dynamic, no vision today within CEB.

Looking at how popular our sport is in Asia or the Americas, we definitely see the long path to give baseball its deserved spot on the european stage. It’s hard to believe than only one european citizen out of ten knows that baseball is played in Europe when our sport is one of the most popular worldwide.

There is still a lot to do in Europe and in my opinion it starts with a strong European body able to bring all NFs together, defines a shared vision and take action.

What is your election manifesto ?

I’m in favor of the merger of baseball and softball. The French Baseball & Softball Federation is a combined Federation and so are more than 60% of NFs in Europe. The international federation also is since 2013 and the birth of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (one of the landmark of the IOC for the reinstatement in the Olympic programme). The future of baseball and softball fall within this union and my goal is to bring CEB and ESF to merge before the 2020 Olympics.

We then need to completely overhaul the way CEB works. The competition system is not adapted to promotion and the development of marketable events – not taking into the account the issues of merchandising, video recording, broadcasting and TV rights where we start from scratch, we are low on human and financial ressources, we are not able to provide NFs with development support…it’s a enormous task to tackle !

What do you think of your chances to be elected ?

I feel confident. My candidacy comes after months of meetings with as many National Federations as I had the opportunity to talk with. Together with an open group of NFs we think that we have to step forward and I believe that I’m the right man for the job.

How do you plan to follow up with the reinstatement of baseball/softball to the Olympic programme ?

It is our duty to show that the IOC made the right decision by reinstating baseball/softball to the Olympic programme. The IF had a complete overhaul (birth of the WBSC, compliance with the 2020 Agenda, aso.) and I wish Europe walks in the steps of the WBSC.

There is no doubt about the success of the baseball/softball event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but we have to demonstrate that this sporting disciplines can be successfully part of any Olympic Games, not matter where they are organized.

What will be your top priority if you win on February the 4th ?

My top priority will be to work on the merging of CEB and ESF before the 2020 Olympics and bring a new dynamic to baseball/softball in Europe.

Why European Baseball & Softball have to combine

Handshake. Holding hands

At a time where IBAF and ISF have merged on the international stage to form the World Baseball Softball Confederation, it seems opportune for CEB and ESF to study the feasibility of combining their federations into one single body. In this regard a joint commission has been created in 2015 however no further steps have been taken to analyse this venture seriously.

The timing has however never seemed more appropriate as steps taken by baseball/softball are closely examined by institutional bodies, from state level all the way up to the International Olympic Committee which made WBSC’s birth (in 2013) a landmark for the reinstatement of our sport in the Olympic programme (in 2016).

But it’s not just about combining to comply with IOC standards. It’s way more, in fact it just is the natural order.

Maybe it’s sound obvious to me because I come from a combined Federation (the French Baseball & Softball Federation). Actually, historically speaking and from my perspective baseball & softball is only one sport with men’s baseball, women’s baseball, men’s softball and women’s softball as the sporting disciplines. There are some slight differences to respect between the two but most in world sport and the media view baseball and softball as brother and sister. I believe they are part of the same family.

A close look at the National Federations of Europe also stands in favor as more than 60% of them are already combined. Furthermore the only reason why some of the remaining 40% NFs have separated bodies is because of the grant they get from their Sports Ministry or National Olympic Committee. Their funding would be cut (usually by two) if they only had one federation which raises the issue of funding – where CEB/ESF have to provide an efficient answer – but not the issue of the sense, utility and will to do it.

Last but not least all NOCs recently asked Baseball and Softball NFs to combine following the IOC decision to recognize WBSC as the sole international body for baseball/softball. It would then create an irrational situation where the continental level has two separate federations while both national and international level have only one.

That’s why I believe that all candidates to CEB/ESF 2017 Elections shall be in favor of the combining of the two federations and bring it as a top priority on their agenda, prior to the 2020 Olympics, for the birth of an “European Baseball & Softball Confederation”.