Election to the ESF Executive Council will take place on Saturday, February 4th, at the ESF Congress in Belgrade, Serbia.

After two four-year terms the current ESF president, Andre van Overbeek, will end the regulation number of terms, so the ESF will have a new president after the Congress.

Election for a Secretary General, a Treasurer and six Vice Presidents is scheduled at the same time.

The candidates are:

PresidentGabriel WAAGE CZE
Secretary GeneralAmi BARANISR
Vice PresidentsYouri ALKALAYBUL
Slobodan DURIC'SRB
Christopher WIESERAUT

What is the presidential candidate’s vision for the future of European Softball?

Gabriel Waage is no novice to international softball. He’s been involved in the ESF since 2005 as the Vice President for Development, the Vice President for Competitions, and he’s spent the last four years as the 1st Vice President.

Q: Why have you decided to run for the position of the ESF president?

A: Because I believe that the path we’ve taken and which we’re working on currently is the right one for softball’s future, and I want to make sure to continue the efforts we’ve already put in.

Q: Can you describe the path?

A: The ESF needs to be a strong and confident Federation with a clear goal.

We want to establish a reasonable competitions structure, which will offer everything any National Federation may need for their development and level.

We want to be the organization, which is always ready to help our affiliated federations with whatever they seek. We always need to be here for them.

We must become even stronger when it comes to promotion of softball as a sport. We need to make our sport more visible, we need to make people take notice of softball. That’s why we focus on live streaming and media coverage in general.

Q: Are there any major changes you have on your mind for the near future?

A: I want the ESF to become a strong brand, which everybody wants to be a part of.

The ESF needs to uplift its marketing efforts. We need to set a goal together with specific steps which have to be taken to reach that goal. That is going to be my number one effort.

Next, I’d like to start a few Europe-overlapping projects, such as Team Europe vs. World Champions. These types of projects have the potential to attract attention of the general European public. We can use such events to strengthen European Softball as a brand.

Q: How would you like to approach softball development in Europe?

A: The ultimate goal should be the professionalization of National Federations – full-time positions in National Federations are the right future for softball expansion.

I also believe that the time is about right for the ESF to establish a full-time development position – to have a person, who would be responsible for running development projects. The ESF has lately kicked off a number of promising projects. The establishment of such a position would help maintain and speed up the progress of these projects.

One of my goals is to make National Federations understand, that success in senior categories is directly connected to activity in youth categories. When a federation sends its youth national teams to our championships regularly, that’s when I know, they’re being serious about softball. Federations need to realize the importance of youth softball and their attendance at youth championships must become standard, not occasional.

Q: Looking back, which three of your achievements in European Softball do you value the most?

A: All three are connected to visibility and promotion of softball. They are the obligatory live scoring from all ESF events, live streaming from our top tournaments, and the establishment of the Communications Director position. We’ve advanced from provincial localism to globalization.

Q: What’s your opinion on the possible future merge of the ESF and the Confederation of European Baseball?

A: There’s one major aspect to all of this. Softball and baseball must become two equally valuable partners in any possible relationship.

Another thing must always be remembered. We’re not only women’s fastpitch. We’re men’s fastpitch and we’re slowpitch, too. And those are the three legs, the base of our sport, our foundation. I can see that participation in all the categories is on the rise, so I know that our path is the right one and we’re not stopping there.

In a long-term view, the merge is, without any doubts, the right step to be taken. The brand of such organization will, of course, become stronger.

To make that happen, the conditions on both sides must be right.

The ESF has been planning and moving their projects forward and I can only hope that the difficulties that CEB has faced in the past few years will come to an end and will open the door for the cooperation and discussions for such a merger. They have to unify, and to find the vision that will be common for everybody. Once the structures and understandings are in place, I am positive that the opportunity will be there and mutual agreement to how to move forward will emerge.

A post-election meeting with the CEB is already scheduled and I am, of course, ready to discuss what the options of the ESF-CEB merge are.

-Helena Novotná-