There’s no base like home in Pirie

Softball SA visited Port Pirie on Thursday for round one in the pursuit to identify country talent for their 2018 Dragons Academy. 

The academy is apart of the junior development pathway program and features 70 girls and boys who will participate in a four day camp in 2018. 

Before selection, participants are put through four weeks of training from state and national level coaches that will result in the selection of the final 70 athletes. 

The camp offers a range of learning opportunities tailored to the participants strengths and weaknesses, leading them towards the elite path. 

In addition to the practical side, the camp also informs participants on sports theory including psychology, food and nutrition, strength and conditioning and physiotherapy. 

At the Thursday community outreach program, the participants were put through tests of agility, standing long jump, bat speed, running speed and throwing accuracy. 

Association and club development officer, Wess Frances says that their search is not only for current softball players. 

“We are looking for anybody who has any sort of sporting ability. If you are a good footballer or netballer, you may have the skills we want.”

“Having knowledge about the game is secondary, we are looking for consistent skills and coordination”, Mr Frances said. 

The selection process in previous years has been affiliated with every South Australian association and in 2017, two Port Pirie athletes were successful. 

The opportunity for country athletes to pursue into elite streams is not limited. 

Mr Frances says that these programs are able to assist local clubs as athletes can bring back the knowledge that have learned and pass it onto coaches and other members. 

“The kids are receiving exposure to higher skill levels and structured training. They are able to create new friendships that will assist them in their development throughout the sport”, Mr Frances said. 

Alice Prokopec, Project support officer and Dragons coach wanted to stress that they are trying to address the stigma that softball is not just a girls sport. 

“Many people don’t know that we offer development for both males and females, we have also had very successful men’s teams.”

“Whilst we are looking for talent, we are also looking for keen boys who may want to try out the sport”, Ms Prokopec said. 

Softball SA also held a community meeting on Thursday night to discuss how students can incorporate softball into their SACE program. 

Mr Frances thinks that this is a great way for those students who may not be as academic to pursue their sport but also attain an ATAR at the same time. 

“I know of about six subjects where students can align their studies to softball”, Mr Frances said. 

Softball SA will be returning on Monday the 30th October to run trials.