My name is Pauline and I practice softball since 2008. I only played one season with my first club before going to our training center. That training center (it calls Pôle France) permit to softball players (only women) to practice every day. I’ll talk about the Women’s Softball.
Indeed, we study in high school every morning and we practice every afternoon. We live in boarding school, and for most of the players, we see our family during the holidays.
For players who can’t enter in that training center (because of their level or if parents or players refuse), they practice in their own club, around twice a week.
For the season, we have two different competitions :
The National championship, with two different levels (6 teams by levels). The team who finishes the last of the first level (it calls D1), goes down to the second level, and the team who win the second level (it calls N1) goes up to the first level.
The winner of the first level is going to the European Cup. To know the other club who’s going to the second European Cup, we have an other competition : The French Challenge (Challenge de France, in french) and the winner of that competition is going to the second European Cup.
The Regionals championships (around 8) : France is separated in Region (if you know France, you know what I mean ;) ), and clubs in each region play a Regional championship.
In France, Softball is not popular, players of the National team are not professionals, dans when we finish our studies, we need to find a job. So, when we play at high level, when we prepare the European Championship, we have to find time before or after our job to practice and go to the gym.
Our federation is not really wealthy, so we have difficulties to practice together as a National team. But since 2 years, we have more help, and we can get together more often for tournaments/sessions. I think our situation is right for most of the European countries ! The peculiarity, here, it’s people don’t really understand what softball is.. Yes, we hear lots of funny definitions of our sport ! Like « oh yeah, it’s like baseball but in water ! » or « Oh, like the beachvolley ? ».. Funny but a little bit depressing!
Personally, I practice softball at high level since 2009. I left my family to enter at the training center, around 900km between them and me. Currently I’m not in boarding school anymore, I have my own apartment, near the training center. So, that’s a sacrifice, if I want to play at the highest level. An other one I made is about my studies: I didn’t go to the university, I studied my Degree in law by e-learning, and I just went to the university to pass my tests. Today I study the photography by the same way. That’s pretty convenient, I can practice everyday, and I study when I have a moment. But it’s also hard to work by myself. Some of the softball players in the training center do the same thing, when they finish high school.
So, if I had a dream for french softball, it could be the recognition of that sport in my country. It could be so interesting to have a lot of players, a lot of teams, a big level, like the american softball.
To talk about the french softball in general, we have a Men’s Fastpitch National championship, and the two first teams of that championship are going to the European Cup. Unfortunately, there is no Men’s National Team for the Europeans.. We also have mixed Slowpitch, with a National championship.
For the Europeans this year, of cours I’d like to see the French team in Top 3 ! So, I think we can finish in top 5, we’ll have a great team for 2017 ;)