The fourth edition of Joudrs International Cup left its original name to become the Mike Stapleton Memorial. It was the president and the vice president of the Czech Softball Association who came up with the idea in February as they didn’t want the name of the international softball legend to be forgiven. The organizing team not only accepted this idea but took over with their heart and soul.
The only boys’ international softball tournament in Europe got a new dimension. “Everybody we contacted with our aim to find materials about Mike, gave us an instant reply within minutes. People sent over their stuff, pictures, personal memories, experience and wisdom that Mike had shared with them. It resulted in these special memorial roll-ups that reflect on Mike’s impact on men’s softball. They were placed in the clubhouse for the whole duration of the tournament and they will be there again for every other year of this event,” head of the organization Ondřej Stoner said.
The medal ceremony was attended by Pavel Mašek, one of those who spent the most time with Mike in the Czech Republic. With the young players, he shared his memory on a guy who made Czech softball a real competition for others on a world stage.
In the end, all went well. With fine weather, a new face and a new meaning, the tournament hosted more than 300 softball players. 24 teams from four countries (CZE, DEN, ISR, NZL) competed in 65 games on five fields in three different categories – under 13, under 16, and under 19.
“There is no other similar tournament for boys in Europe so we decided to start with this and make it a place for all softball youngsters from Europe, and now from the whole world, to meet. We would like to host teams from more countries next time, now there were squads from Israel, Denmark and New Zealand, last year, there were also Croatia or Sweden. We talked with a few teams from Canada, Argentina, and Spain so we hope we can bring in another flag next time at Joudrs,” Stoner reveals his plans for future. “I would like this tournament to be one where teams like to return, play and then say it was worth being here.”
To a great delight of the organizing committee, 23 out of 24 teams stayed in the ballpark for the closing ceremony. Some of the participants stayed an extra half-day on the field because of that, so this was another nicely strong and emotional moment for the organizers - to see the value and respect the teams showcased towards the event. All of them were rewarded later when they had the chance to witness haka for the last time in this edition of the tournament.
This international boys’ competition is a prestigious event for Czech teams and unfortunately, in the end, some of them had to be rejected this time due to capacity reasons. However, the organizing committee is already planning how to expand the tournament for next year so it can manage the interest.
The position of favorites for the win was proved by Hroši Havlíčkův Brod in the under-19s. They were also joined by Vojtěch Buchner from Most and Filip Koblížek from Pardubice.
Among the 16-years-olds the triumph was seized by one of two Israeli sides – Warriors White.
Žraloci Ledenice grabbed the gold in under-13s.
The final standings:
Tomáš Pokorný – Žraloci Ledenice – Best pitcher
David Jelínek – Snails Kunovice – MVP
Cedric Nzambi – SK Joudrs Praha – Best pitcher
Ivri Margolin – Warriors White – MVP
Jiří Šeda – Hroši Havlíčkův Brod – Best pitcher
Adam Vavrečka – SK Joudrs Praha – MVP