Another world softball championship coming to Whitehorse

Whitehorse's 2008 International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Men's World Fastpitch Championships was one of three Canadian events nominated for Event of the Year by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

Whitehorse’s 2008 International Softball Federation (ISF) Junior Men’s World Fastpitch Championships was one of three Canadian events nominated for Event of the Year by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.

Apparently, the tourism alliance was not the only one to notice.

On Wednesday the ISF announced Whitehorse will once again host the world as the selected location of the ISF XIII Women’s World Championship in 2012.

“That certainly had a big affect on it,” said George Arcand, executive director of Softball Yukon and chair of the organizing Committee for the 2012 world championships. “(The junior men’s championship) gave them a chance to know we have the facilities, the volunteers and how the city is going to embrace a championship. So that probably had a place in making their decision.”

The tournament will play host to 16 teams, four more than in the Junior Men’s Fastpitch Championship. All 16 teams will be selected for the championship in a qualifying tournament in 2011.

“There’ll be some of the same countries (represented) for sure,” said Arcand, referring to powerhouses like America, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. “What will be new is likely we will see the Netherlands, Italy, Greece, Great Britain and likely South Africa as well.”

Softball Yukon worked with Softball Canada to make their bid to host the championship last October. One can assume things went more smoothly than in the past, for not having to explain why the diamonds at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse do not require electrical lighting for evening play.

“The first time we (applied), because we don’t have lit fields, we had to explain to them about northern daylight in the summer,” said Arcand. “Once they experienced that at the junior men’s, they understood. So they’re fine with it now.”

However, minor adjustments to the Pepsi Softball Centre will have to be conducted to meet ISF regulations for women’s softball. A temporary outfield fence will need to be installed to shorten the outfield and the pitching mound will be moved closer to the plate.

“Other than that, the facility is ready to go,” said Arcand. “We’ll certainly do some sprucing up and up grading as required, but it won’t be major.”

The exact dates have yet to be determined, but July appears to be safe bet, which may, ironically, interfere with a softball institution in the Yukon, the Dustball Slo-pitch Tournament.

“It could disrupt Dustball that year – not that we would cancel it,” said Arcand, stressing the latter. “It may disrupt it in terms of date.”

As for the nomination for Event of the Year, the junior men’s championship lost out to the IIHF World Junior Championship hosted in Ottawa that year.

The nomination, although momentous, had nothing to do with being awarded the women’s championship, said Arcand.

“I rather doubt they even knew that,” he said. “Softball Canada was aware of that, but that would likely be the last criteria.

“What they are worried about is whether or not we can look after the athletes properly and put the tournament on.”

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