Kohlhase not fazed by baseball's rise

GEORGE HEAGNEY
Last updated 12:00 29/11/2012

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New Zealand's men's and women's respective national softball coaches, Eddie Kohlhase and Naomi Shaw, believe their game is in a good state.

Both are in Palmerston North this week at the junior secondary schools' tournament at Colquhoun Park, a rare time the two national coaches are together.

Men's Black Sox coach Kohlhase was coaching Auckland's St Peter's College at the tournament and Shaw, the women's White Sox coach, was in Palmerston North checking out the game in Manawatu.

Kohlhase has a world series to think about in March but despite the common thought of softball suffering from the growth of baseball, he felt his code was going strong.

"I think it will balance out in due course I guess," he said.

"From a national coach's perspective I don't see an issue."

Earlier this year New Zealand softball players playing baseball caused plenty of controversy with calls for them to pick one sport, but that was just a scheduling problem, according to Kohlhase.

He said there was no problem with baseball stealing his top players. But softball still had to make sure they kept bringing players through - not just in the main centres, but in the provinces like Manawatu as well.

"There's some fantastic talent in New Zealand like there is in all sports, to be fair.

"The onus is up to the sport to get its pathway right for the youngsters, provide that pathway for our young guys to reach the top level."

Kohlhase is also coach of the Auckland under-15 side and along with his work with the school team he was optimistic about what was coming through.

"From what I saw and what I've seen already this week, there's some real promising talent out there. Just nurture that talent and just continue to foster that development of talent in our sport."

The Black Sox are building up for the world series in March in Auckland and Kohlhase had the tough job of choosing a final squad.

Women's softball doesn't face the same competition from baseball as the men's game does, but White Sox coach Shaw wanted to make sure the women's game kept growing.

There are more opportunities for women to play in Europe and the competition is stronger in Australia where the New Zealand team plays against Australian state teams.

She said it was important to make sure the game was enjoyable if they want people to play it.

"We need more people in the clubs being proactive and if we make it fun, we'll get them back all right."

Shaw believed the smaller associations like Manawatu or Gisborne had more potential for growth than the main centres in New Zealand like Wellington, Hutt Valley or Auckland.

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She has a young team at the moment in preparation for their world series in 2014.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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