Cloverdale’s Holly Speers fields a ball for Team Canada during the 2017 Canada Cup tournament in South Surrey. (File photo)

Cloverdale’s Holly Speers fields a ball for Team Canada during the 2017 Canada Cup tournament in South Surrey. (File photo)

Organizers of Olympic softball qualifier seek sponsorship help

2019 Americas Qualifier tournament set for South Surrey in late August

With the event fast approaching, organizers of this summer’s 2019 Americas Olympic softball qualifier are seeking local sponsors to help cover the costs of hosting such a high-profile – and expensive – event.

Members of the not-for-profit society in charge of the tournament – as well as the annual Canada Cup, which has been staged in South Surrey for more than two decades – are seeking, among other things, a ‘presenting sponsor’ in advance of the 12-team event, which is scheduled to hit the field at Softball City Aug. 25-Sept. 1.

From the tournament, two national teams will earn berths into the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which is to feature a six-team women’s fastpitch event for the first time since 2008.

Before they cast a wider net, organizers would like to give priority to Surrey-based businesses, committee chairperson Greg Timm told Peace Arch News.

“We have a ‘Surrey-first’ mandate. Of course, we’ll take any opportunities we can find, but we need to get the word out because there are a lot of people in Surrey who we think could benefit from this commercial opportunity to advertise with people at such a high-profile event, and we’d certainly like to find those people,” he said.

In order to host the tournament – which will include Canada’s national women’s team, as well as teams from Cuba, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, among others – organizers must cover hotel costs for all 12 teams, as well as food and all ground transportation for the week. Though he couldn’t put an exact number on how much the society still needs to raise, Timm put the number “in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Timm said not only are they seeking businesses who may want to spent advertising dollars, but also local philanthropists “who have had a good turn done to them over the years, and have done well in life and could possibly choose us as an option to support.”

“We’ve had those opportunities with people in the past (for Canada Cup tournaments) and they’ve been tremendously helpful, and in some cases, kept our event alive,” he explained, adding that “there’s always been a certain magic” to past Canada Cup events due to the local support.

The community – be it volunteers, city officials or businesses – have long supported the Canada Cup tournament, Timm said, but there is an increased amount of urgency surrounding the qualifier, due to the fact that the latter event comes with more costs than the former. Also, they’re behind schedule due to only being chosen as the winning bid by the World Baseball Softball Confederation in late January.

“It’s late, quite honestly, and this is a byproduct of the WBSC making their decision and their announcement (on a winning bid city) about five months after they initially said they would,” Timm explained.

“International sport is sometimes complicated on the how and when and why they make decisions, but they made it, now we’re out here trying to get it back to the break-even point so we can continue to do these sorts of things.

“We’re a not-for-profit society, so there’s no profit motive here. We have some fantastic volunteers and this is all done through their hard work, and we do this… to try and give back, to give some young girls some heroes, and to build some Canadian and community pride.”

In addition to playing in the August qualifier, Team Canada will also be in South Surrey next month for the Canada Cup. The team is currently playing stateside in the U.S.-based National Pro Fastpitch league. Branded in the NPF as the Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, the team – which plays out of Marion, Ill. – is currently 9-2 (win-loss) in the six-team league, which also includes Australian and Chinese national squads this year.

“They’re doing very well right now – our team is just fantastic,” said Timm.

For more information on the 2019 Americas qualifier, including contact information for those interested in sponsorship opportunities, visit https://americassoftballqualifier.com



sports@peacearchnews.com

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