Please introduce yourself.
My name is Estelle Scicluna, I’m from Gozo, Malta and I am 16 years old. I have been playing softball since 2011 and was one of the original players when the Ghajnsielem Redcoats was established as a club in 2012. I have been playing for the Redcoats ever since competing in various leagues organized by the Malta Baseball and Softball Association. For the past three seasons I played in the Women’s Fastpitch softball league. I started playing for the U19 Maltese national team this season playing as a pitcher and utility player. I have also participated in many training camps held in Gozo conducted by foreign coaches, and in the Czech Republic and the Netherlands. This coming July I will also be participating in a triangular training camp in Zagreb, Croatia, with the Ghajnsielem Redcoats in collaboration with two clubs; Olympia Haarlem of the Netherlands and S.K Prince Zagreb of Croatia. As a softball player I gain a lot from these experiences and become a better player.
What made you want to play softball?
Softball was non-existent in Gozo until my father, Joseph Scicluna, started the Redcoats in 2011/2012 in order to give an opportunity to girls my age to practice a sport. My father was the one who led me down the path and introduced softball to me. I instantly fell in love with the sport back when I was 10 years old and now that I am 16 years old I love the game even more.
Can you tell me something about softball in your country?
Prior to 2011 only a few people in Gozo knew that softball even existed, let alone played it. There was, and still is, a shortage of opportunities for females to play a sport and only football is promoted as a sport for girls. After the Redcoats started softball many girls joined to try it out and are still joining. We are improving and trying our very best to promote softball and encourage girls to play this sport. Unfortunately, only the Ghajnsielem Redcoats have youth teams. So for our U19, U17, U15 and U13 softball players to gain experience we have to compete against the women’s teams in Malta (the main island).
How often do you practice with your national team and what do the practices look like?
Now that we have our sights set on participating in the U19 European Championship we practice as a national team once a week. Our coaches are still working on helping us to improve our fundamental softball skills. As we approach the tournament more time would be dedicated to team defence and game situations. Periodically we play exhibition games against women’s teams to help us improve our game.
What's your best experience with the national team so far?
One of the best experiences with the national team was playing against an Italian team based in Caserta. This was special for me since it was the first time I competed against a foreign opponent.
Where do you hope to see yourself in five years regarding softball?
In 5 years’ time I hope to be a stronger, more complete softball player. As a pitcher I would like to have at least four pitches. I would like to be playing for the Ghajnsielem Redcoats against foreign teams competing in European Cup competitions and for the National team.
Malta is participating for the first time ever in the European Championship this year. What are you expecting from it and what do you hope?
I am really honoured to hopefully be representing Malta in the U19 European Championship and my goal is to do my best as a player and for the team to do well and give it all. Our objective for us individual players and for the team as a whole is to perform at our best during the tournament. I want to gain experience and learn from our opponents as much as I can. We would like to win at least one game but more importantly we want that this experience will help us to improve as a team. Another hope for us is that our participation will inspire more girls to start playing this wonderful sport and spftball will gain in popularity in Malta.
Is it hard for your national team to participate in European tournaments?
Our main problem in Malta is that we don’t have professional or experienced softball coaches to help players develop. Another issue is that the pool of players eligible for selection is very limited. The biggest challenge for our participation at the U19 European championship is to get enough pitchers ready by July. Currently I am the only experienced pitcher on the team and that is our greatest concern.
How difficult was it to make it to the national selection and what was the process?
Unfortunately, since I am the only pitcher with some experience in this age group, I was an automatic selection. It is our hope that once we participate in the U19 European Championship more girls would take up the sport and in the future there would be more competition for places.
What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
An advice I was given during my first experience playing competitive softball is that “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over!”. For me this means never to give up even when losing in a game or when things are not going your way, but to always keep your head high and to keep on fighting and play your game to try to win. Goals can be achieved and obstacles can be overcome as long as there is the determination and commitment.
What do you think is the key to a successful team?
In my opinion the key to a successful team is fostering team spirit and have players work hard together with determination and commitment to achieve a common goal. Communication between the players on the field and constatnt support for each other is also essential.
- Romy Marinus -