The 11th Junior Men’s World Championship will be held in Midland, Michigan, USA, from July 24-30. With all WBSC World Championships now being held as open tournaments, the 2016 Junior Men’s Championship will showcase the junior level of men’s fastpitch development across the world.
The European Softball Federation is proud to confirm that three European national teams will compete in Michigan: the Czech Republic, Denmark and Israel -- three of the top four teams from last year’s Junior Men’s European Championship played in Most, Czech Republic.
Denmark sent its strongest Under-19 players to the Junior Men’s European Championship last year, but for many of them that event was their last softball experience in the junior age bracket. So a team consisting of mainly young players will travel to the USA this summer and will use the tournament to begin their preparations for the next year’s European Championship.
Assistant Coach Lars Køster said: “We’re sending a young team to the Worlds this year, but they will still play hard.”
This will be the fifth time a Danish squad will have competed at the Junior Men’s World Championship. Their best-ever result was an eighth-place finish in 2012 in Parana, Argentina.
After 15 years, the national team from Israel will make its first appearance at the Junior Men’s World Championship. No concrete goal has been set for this event; the Championship is seen as only one stop on a longer journey.
Gerson Gillet, President of the Israeli Softball Federation, said: “As we are building the Junior program in Israel for men and women, the goal for the World Championship is to have good games and move slowly towards the main goal, which over the next few years will be to become one of the top teams in Europe. This experience will create a more professional atmosphere in the players’ attitude towards fastpitch softball and hopefully will bring them to higher levels of play.”
The Israeli team has not changed its roster much since last year’s European Junior Championship in Most. Gerson Gillet said: “These young men started as a national team together at the ages of 13 and 14 and have grown into a top-level junior team that can even compete with our men in Israel.”
However, despite the amount of experience that the players have had together, they are still very young and most of them will have the opportunity to compete at the next Junior Men’s World Championship in 2018.
The Czech Republic, the current European Junior Men’s Champion, has made a change in their approach after competing in the last six World Championship events and never making it to the playoffs. Assistant Coach Jaroslav Korčák said: “The goal is to clinch a playoff berth, while the dream of winning a medal is a much higher-level motivation. Dreams versus goals: totally different things!”
The Czech squad is undergoing a comprehensive preparation that includes two weeks in Florida at the AAU Championship, a tour in Argentina and the Zeisterslot Tournament in Holland in May. The build-up will finish with two tournaments in the United States before the World Championship itself. The coaches will probably stick to the roster that succeeded last year, and expectations are high. Jaroslav Korčák said: “The final selection has not been announced yet, but the team hasn't changed much, so don't expect any big surprises.”
The complete list of the 13 participating national teams is: Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, United States and Venezuela.
Pool A: Argentina,Australia, United States, Czech Republic, Denmark, Botswana, and Venezuela
Pool B: New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, and Israel
The official announcement is available here.
Head Coach: Gilles Fourier
Assistant Coach: Lars Køster
Assistant Coach: Benjamin Fromberg Gorlen
Physiotherapist: Hana Ghali
Roster: Andreas Adelsbæk, Duncan Milne, Mads “Shorty” Jørgensen, Oliver Summers, Anton Larsen, Oscar Andersen, Alexander Lorentsen, Emil Lûthje, Jasper Johansen, Nicolai Elsner, Asger Palm, Oscar Svendensen, Theodor Gilhøj, Thomas Kingo, Andy Smythe, Magnus Schou, Mikkel Nielsen.
Head Coach: Corey Vyner
Assistant Coach: Brian Klaff
Physiotherapist and Conditionning Coach: Dganit Leon
Roster: Yonatan Aron, Amit Baran, Yuval Barak, Yomi Klaff, Adi Leon, Kfir Leon, Benjamin Rosenberg, Bar Shrem, Gal Shrem, Raz Shuker, Elan Zashin.
TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC
Head Coach: Dušan Šnelly
Assistant Coach: Jaroslav Korčák
Assistant Coach: Tomáš Kusý
Assistant Coach: Tomáš Benda
Physiotherapist: Miroslav Kout
Supporting Manager: Luboš Bukáček
Roster: Dan Bukáček, Jan Cabalka, Dominik Čech, Daniel Černý, Jakub Hajný, Jonáš Hajný, Michal Holobrádek, Jan Hospodka, Matěj Jedlička, Filip Koblížek, Petr Kruntorád, Petr Kučírek, Michal Preclík, Jiří Šeda, Václav Šrétr, Milan Šulc, Martin Turek, Šimon Urbánek, Marek Volf, Martin Zakouřil.
Europe will not only be represented by its coaches and players, but we are very proud to see three umpires from European countries on the list of 16 officials who have been selected for the Junior World Championship. They are: Jiří Dostál (CZE), Florian Lautenschilarger (GER) and Brian Aron (ISR).
/photos from EChJM, by Jan Beneš/