Fastpitch fury: Whitehorse gears up to host men's world softball championship

Fastpitch fury: Whitehorse gears up to host men's world softball championship

Whithehorse is set to host 20 softball teams from around the world, as Yukon's capital prepares to host the 2017 Men's World Softball Championship.

The city's is preparing for the biggest Men's World Softball Championship in 20 years. 

Organizer George Arcand say this year's edition boasts the largest field for the tournament in 20 years. He's confident the city's fields are up to the task, even though in recent years there have been complaints about accessibility and the difference between the two diamonds' grass and dirt playing surfaces.  

"It'll be a challenge" 

George Arcand is chair of the host committee for the 2017 Men's World Softball Championship.

He announced today he's expecting teams from Argentina, Australia, Botswana, Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Great Britain, Guatemala, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, United States and Venezuela.

That means about 400 athletes in all, plus coaches and other guests flying in. Umpires from 15 different countries will also take part.

"This is a great opportunity to showcase our territory to the rest of the world," says Arcand.

However, it will require some clockwork-like coordination. 

"With 20 countries we expect to see 103 games in ten days," he says. "That means six games a day on each park until the playoffs begin."

The tournament is looking for 200 volunteers to help run the tournament, which is scheduled to take place from July 7 to 16, but Arcand is confident it will go smoothly. 

"Barring any weather issues, we'll be fine," he says. 

Whitehorse had previously hosted the women's world championships, as well as the world junior championships, but this is its first time hosting the men's iteration of the tournament.

When asked how Whitehorse fields compare to previous host cities, Arcand said that "the only thing we don't have is more than two fields. Otherwise, we compare as well or better than other locations. At least that's what we're being told." 

'It's really something'

The tournament will be played under fastball rules, where the pitcher is allowed to make a full windmill motion before throwing.

That means a neon-green "optic ball" will be whipping towards batters at speeds greater than 100 kilometres an hour.

John Streicker, Yukon's Minister of Community Services, says the tournament is a good catch for the territory — and not only for the restaurant, vehicle rental and hotel business.

"It's really exciting when we get world-class sporting events here in Yukon. The Yukon continues to punch above its weight when it comes to sports," he says. "It's really something, we're hosting world championships. It's great to see this calibre of sport here."

The tournament is held every two years, with the last edition held in Saskatoon. 

Organizers have already worked to book hotel rooms and are still looking to find more accommodations. 

Before the tournament, on July 5, Team Canada — the defending world champions — will hold a clinic with young Yukon players. Rockers Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans will play a show to kick off the tournament.