Forty days ago, Turkey didn’t have a national softball team.
Now, it’s competing against some of the sport’s best players at the Men’s World Softball Championships in Whitehorse. Sixteen teams from five regions are playing in the 10-day event.
Thomas McDermott, of New Jersey, has been coaching American football in Turkey for about a year, but recently turned his attention to softball. He says a training camp was held outside Ankara, Turkey’s capital, a little more than a month ago and a team was put together from that.
McDermott says expectations weren’t high coming into the tournament.
“Yeah, we’re getting whopped, but their head’s aren’t down,” he says about his players. The team is at the bottom of the standings.
“They’re enjoying what they’re experiencing here in the Yukon … It’s great for them because they’re experiencing life outside of Turkey for the first time — a lot of the guys are.”
Speaking through a translator, Murat Pazan of Turkey’s softball association says the league will continue to train hard for future competitive events.
‘When it’s winter in South Africa — roughly this is the same weather.’
Meanwhile, some teams weren’t prepared for the cool temperatures Whitehorse has been experiencing.
“[Team] Dominican Republic didn’t even have any undershirts for their uniforms,” says George Arcand, president of Softball Yukon, the body organizing the tournament.
Arcand says the team ended up layering-up, using souvenir t-shirts sold at the venue.
Forthius Dau, head coach of Team South Africa, said his players came prepared.
“It’s not the weather that we are used to, but when it’s winter in South Africa — roughly, this is the same weather. ”
Team South Africa is made up of white, black and Indian players. Dau says it’s important the team remain multiracial.
“We always make sure we keep the spirit of … the rainbow nation. You remember Mandela? That’s what he preached.”
‘Wow, the pitch is great and so large’
Team Hong Kong is made up mostly of players who attend the same university. Hon Man Lau, a left field player, says softball is not very popular in Honk Kong yet. He says there are only two ball diamonds to play on in the city.
“When we just came here we just thought that, ‘Wow, the pitch is great and so large,” says Lau. “Much larger than what we expected before.”
The competition runs until July 16 at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse. Canada is the team to beat, defending it’s title, having won the 2015 World Softball Championships. So far, it’s the only team that’s undefeated.