Switch to Hancock Park base expected to give sport wider exposure

Otago softball has ushered in its new season with a shift across town.

The organisation has moved from Ellis Park to Hancock Park as it prepares for its opening day on Saturday.

Four senior diamonds had been made on the ground and three junior ones would be ready for next weekend.

An additional few would be added at Kettle Park after Christmas, which would allow T-ball to move across from Bathgate Park.

Otago Softball Association operations manager Stacey Wardell said it was an exciting move.

"Our biggest thing is Hancock Park has more room, better exposure and is more central.

"Where we were it’s very you-blink-you-miss-it.

"This is very exciting that we’re now going to be somewhere where people walking up John Wilson Dr or going along Victoria Dr will actually see us and see softball being played."

There had also been concerns about more buildings coming up around Ellis Park, which created issues with diamond placement so as not to damage them.

Hancock Park had enough room so diamonds did not have to back on to each other, which made play much safer, too.

She said the Pirates rugby clubrooms would be another benefit.

While the association had clubrooms at Ellis Park, space inside could be a problem on a rainy day during a tournament.

They would share those rooms with the Pirates, as well as teams in football, netball and squash.

"The long-term goal will be to start utilising it as a sports hub — have the different codes there working together and becoming one, I guess.

"It means we’ve got somewhere the whole softball community can come together. We can have a bit more of a social and family appeal to it."

Wardell hoped the new
location would help grow the game.

She also said bringing it together with T-ball would help show children there was a pathway in the sport as they got older.

Senior teams had increased by one this season, although the school grades had taken a hit which had been expected because of Covid-19.

Otago was also working with Southland to potentially start a club league in Gore.

In that, the top teams from both regions could meet once or twice a month.

Hancock Park will also host the South Island under-18 tournament in January.

It will be club-based, rather than a provincial tournament.

The senior Otago representative teams will play at the annual South Island tournaments in Christchurch on December 5 and 6.

 

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