Wollongong will play host to Australia’s best players after the city secured the National Women’s Baseball Championships to be played in April next year.
Several interstate venues were considered before Destination Wollongong and the Illawarra Baseball Association made a successful pitch for the event that will bring an estimated $1.5 million to the region.
Baseball Australia’s general operations manager Justin Drew said the quality of Wollongong’s facilities was vital for the event that will be pivotal to the Australian women’s preparations for next year’s World Cup.
‘‘It’s a very important national championships for us because it’s the build-up to the 2014 World Cup,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve set a target of the girls having a very successful campaign.
‘‘They were silver medallists in 2010 and finished fourth in 2012, so they’re going over with the ambition of winning the gold.
‘‘As such, we wanted to make sure we had the championship positioned at a quality facility with a strong association that could run it well for us.’’
Drew said the tournament was a reward for country NSW dedication to growing the women’s game.
‘‘Women’s baseball is our fastest growing membership category,’’ Drew said.
‘‘Both Baseball NSW and Country NSW Baseball have shown a strong commitment to the growth of women’s baseball, so it’s a key area for us in the growth of that side of the sport.’’
The tournament will also feature the National Youth (under-15s) Championship, highlighting a crucial age group for the sport’s development.
‘‘It’s more about participation and growth of the sport in the younger age groups but we see it as key that these two championships align with each other,’’ Drew said.