Softball Australia, federal government reaffirm support for indigenous softball

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

man holding softball
Andrew Leigh speaks before last night's Aussie Spirit game against Japan
Image: Laura Hale.
man holding softball
Andrew Leigh preparing to throw out the first pitch at before last night's Aussie Spirit game against Japan
Image: Laura Hale.
Aboriginal softballer Stacey Porter during Wednesday's game
Image: Laura Hale.

Hawker, Canberra — Last night at the Hawker International Softball Centre, Softball Australia, the Australian Sport Commission and the Federal Government through Andrew Leigh reaffirmed their support of indigenous softball, the most popular sport for indigenous women.

Their support was part of a number of activities to celebrate indigenous softball prior to the start of two games between the Aussie Spirit and the Japan women's national softball team including a demonstration game between youth teams from the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales, a cultural performance, and several speakers including Leigh, an Aboriginal elder from the Ngunnawal tribe, and a representative from the Australian Sport Commission.

All speakers paid tribute to the traditional landowners.

Leigh was at the event on behalf of Kate Lundy who was unable to attend because of additional duties as a result of her ministerial portfolio increasing. He said the federal government was committed to making softball the sport of choice for the indigenous community as sport helps keep people fit. After his speech, he was presented with a bat painted by an Aboriginal artist.

The speaker from the Australian Sport Commission echoed Leigh's message, saying one of their goals was to see more Australian Aboriginal membership on Australian national teams.

Indigenous competitors represent Australia at the highest level in softball, with two aboriginal players on the Australia women's national softball team, Vanessa Stokes and Stacey Porter, and one aboriginal player on the Australian men's national softball team, Jeff Goolagong.

Softball Australia has made a commitment to indigenous Australian involvement, not just player participation, but in leadership roles, with 183 indigenous Australians involved in these roles across all levels of Softball Australia. Everyone is involved in increasing participation across gender lines, and in the coming year, they will support over one hundred programs for the community.

The game was also attended by Japan's ambassador to Australia. Leigh threw the ceremonial first pitch for the game.


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