An ESF Slowpitch Umpire Clinic was held in Slough, UK from 7-11 May. 7 umpires attended from the UK, one from Germany and one from Ireland. 3 umpires had to withdraw prior to the beginning of the course.
The instructor, Bob Milosavljevic came over from Boston (USA). He set up the clinic in an interactive way with the attendees. This was a very successful and interesting formula. The candidates worked hard and enthusiastically to obtain their licence, but the group also grew into a bunch of friends. On Saturday and Sunday there was a tournament and all the candidates were evaluated once at home plate, once at first base and once at third base.
The final result was that 6 umpires got their licence, one was proposed for a provisional licence and two unfortunately did not succeed, but I am certain they also learned a lot. During the tournament I was surprised by the high level of the games, the beautiful plays and the marvellous outs which were made. Slowpitch on this level is far from only recreational, it is a top sport, but there were also friendships witnessed during the whole weekend. People came from all over the UK, Ireland and sometimes from further away, they paid their own costs and a lot of them camped at the grounds. From April till September they compete every weekend with mostly 32 teams, playing on 8 diamonds.
For the players and their families it is a way of life. In this tournament, 50 teams competed and it was a pleasure to see the players, very competitive, but also playing in friendship with all others. The NSL teams collect points throughout the year and the top 8 teams play the NSL Nationals in September and the winner of this will represent GB at the European Cup. I believe Slowpitch needs more attention, it is a very good possibility to involve more players in our beautiful softball sport.
Photo showing (from left to right): Bob Milosavljevic (Clinician), attendees Darrell Pitman (UK), Liz Warner (UK), Patrick van Uffelen (Germany), Debbie Moores (UK), Luis Arrevilagas (UK), Steve Getraer (UK), Lesley Morisetti (UK), Maarten Blanken (Ireland), Hans Daanen (UK), Gilbert Tobback (ESF vice president), Chris Moon (Clinic Organiser and assistant), Pete Saunders (assistant).