Softball NZ bidding to host the 2021 world championships after Black Sox win
Softball New Zealand are hoping the Black Sox's seventh world championship gold medal will lead to a boost in funding and are pressing ahead with a bid to host the 2021 world tournament.
Tony Giles, Softball New Zealand's (SNZ) chief executive, confirmed a bid had already been lodged with the World Baseball Softball Council (WBSC), who will make a decision in October at their 2017 congress in Botswana.
The men's world championships were last held in New Zealand in 2013 when the Black Sox won at Albany and Giles said it was time they returned to Auckland.
"We've got a great venue at Rosedale Park, and we believe there's a good feeling about softball in New Zealand, especially after this latest success."
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Giles understood Argentina were considering a bid to host the 2021 tournament in Parana, but New Zealand has some heavyweight backing.
"Canada is going to support us, which is great. They have had six male world championships since 2009 and would like to see it go to us."
Giles said it was an exciting time for international men's softball with a Top Eight Nations tournament set to start in 2020 in Saskatoon, Canada.
It would be held every two years, between world championships. New Zealand could apply to host it.
"That will give our elite men a pinnacle international event every year, which can only good for the game."
Giles hopes the WBSC "grab footage from the last two games at the world champs and market it to boost exposure of the men's game".
"It was real theatre," he said of the Black Sox's 12-11 comeback win over Canada and 6-4 victory over Australia in the final after Joel Evans' grand slam home run.
The Black Sox will defend their title at the 2019 world championships in Prague - the first to be held in Europe.
Giles said plans were underway for the New Zealand team to visit Prague in 2018 for a mini-tournament to familiarise themselves with conditions in the Czech Republic before the world series.
SNZ plan to hold their Challenge Cup international tournament on an annual basis in Auckland after initiating it this year with the Black Sox beating Argentina in the final.
The 2018 Challenge Cup entries would be finalised by October, but Australia, Japan and the Czech Republic had already confirmed their interest. Canada, the 2015 world champions, had declined because they are set to attend the 2018 Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic.
Giles said the tournament naming rights sponsor "signed on again" and the principal sponsors of the Black Sox and the Junior Black Sox (national under-19 boy's team) had already committed to extending their support.
"We are confident that the Black Sox's success will help us attract more commercial partners."
Giles said he hoped the seventh title win would allow SNZ to have "different conversations" with Sport New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand.
"We've always tended to go in a little bit cap in hand, as a blue collar sport grateful for what we can get.
" Now we can talk about our sport in a different light. We've got a great story to tell."
Most of the Black Sox arrive in Auckland on Wednesday on a flight also bearing New Zealand's under-21 netball world championship winners.
Some have stayed to play for North American clubs at the upcoming Amateur Softball Association (ASA) and International Softball Congress (ISC) tournaments.
"We can't have a tickertape parade, all the confetti has been used up in Auckland [for the Team New Zealand America's Cup parade]," Giles quipped.
"But we'd like to have a celebration for our players and their partners after they all get back to New Zealand, and I'm writing to High Performance Sport New Zealand to see if there's any way they can help us get the group together for that."
Giles believed the Black Sox's victory was down to "great leadership on the diamond and off the diamond".
"We had that leadership from [head coach] Mark Sorenson and manager Jayden Moore, who's been the unsung hero, in many ways, for the environment he's created over the last couple of years... and we had the talent on the diamond, led by Nathan Nukunuku [the Black Sox captain]."
Giles said SNZ had been humbled by the support it had received from other New Zealand sporting codes.
New Zealand Cricket had tweeted its congratulations, he said, and "I had a call today from Jenni Wyllie from Netball New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand told us that Emirates Team New Zealand asked them to pass on their congratulations too".