Over the past few years the Middle-Eastern state has demonstrated diverse participation levels in softball, one of the few team sports which have captured the imagination of Islamic women.
Last week, Iran Softball Federation President Hossein Sadegh Abedin and secretary general Faramarz Sangini went to Dashti city in southern Iran to watch more than 50 girls ranging from primary school to high school levels who are playing softball on a regular basis.
ISF President Don Porter said: “The BackSoftball team has shown the International Olympic Committee time and again that we are committed to extending the popularity of our sport across the world, particularly to women and young people. The fact that it is simple to learn and cheap to play and that other sports stadia can be used to stage major games underlines how accessible the sport is. I’m delighted to hear that softball is growing in Iran.”
It would have been inconceivable in the early 1980s, in the early years after the Islamic revolution when competitive sports for women were strongly discouraged, for Iranian women to play a team sport such as softball. But the sport, which is simple to learn and inexpensive to play, can be played in discreet dress and is therefore particularly important to increasing sports participation opportunities among Muslim women, a key value of the IOC.
The first women’s softball championship in Iran took place in Tehran in 2005, with five teams competing at a football (soccer) ground. There are now more than 15 cities in Iran that promote participation in softball.
This is further proof of the ISF’s commitment to extend the reach of softball after a hugely successful Beijing Olympic Games last year, which enjoyed sellout crowds. The gold medal game of the women’s fast pitch event was won by Japan, with huge television audiences around the world watching their victory over the USA.