World Championship opened and underway!
CARACAS (Venezuela) - The 12th ISF World Championship got underway on Wednesday with two games and the Opening Ceremony, with the event being officially opened by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías.
On Day 1 of the event, Japan and Argentina played the first game in the afternoon, then host Venezuela met the Dominican Republic in the evening, following the Opening Ceremony.
The Dutch Softball Team is playing its first game on Thursday vs. Great Britain, their opponent in last years European Championship-final in Valencia (Spain).
For the Dutch Team, the day started with a visit to the Caracas Sports Club, where it was invited for by the Netherlands Club in Caracas.
In the morning, the team practiced at the softball-field on the complex of this club, then had some time to relax and ate pizza's.
A possible dive in the swimming pool had to be scrubbed, as it startened to darken and then the rain, spoiling the swimming opportunity.
While the team was at the country club, Team Manager Paul Boonstra remained in the hotel, as he had to attend a meeting of the 16 Heads of Delegates, where details regarding the World Championship were discussed.
At 4:30 PM, Olympic champion Japan and Argentina played the first game of the World Championship at Estadio Octavo Inning.
Japan scored seven runs in the first inning, thanks to four homeruns, then added six more runs in the second at bat to win 13-1 and end the game in four innings.
Argentina scored its lone run in the second inning.
Japan ended the game with a triple play.
The Dutch Team returned in the hotel around 4 PM, had some time to relax, but then had to dress up for the Opening Ceremony in the evening.
The team at the Caracas Sports Club
The Blues Sisters 2010?
A teamphoto at the Caracas Sports Club
The Dutch Team is ready for it, as Nathalie Gosewehr shows!
Pitchers Rebecca Soumeru and Kirsten Scheele
Pitcher Kirsten Scheele
Head Coach Craig Montvidas looks on, while Solange Starrenburg
and Merel Oosterveld perform a hitting drill
Virginie Anneveld and Lindsey Meadows walk to another drill
Time to relax...
...and to eat a pizza
Will there be time to take a dive in the swimming pool?
Unfortunately, it starts to get darker...
...and darker, then the rain followed
At Estadio Independencia in Caracas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías arrived around 6:45 PM (which is 1:15 AM Dutch time early Thursday-morning) in the stadium, where he was introduced to the members of the Executive Council of the International Softball Federation (ISF), which included Dutchman André van Overbeek, who is one of two Vice-Presidents for Europe.
The Venezuelan President then had a lenghthy talk with Don Porter, the President of the ISF, before the Opening Ceremony started at 7:15 PM with dance and music.
The stadium was filled with some 20.000 ethousiastic spectators, who made a lot of noise with thundersticks.
A few hundred dancers put on a big show to start the ceremony.
After about 10 minutes, the show got an historical turn, as an actor playing famous Simón Bolívar (who liberated Venezuela almost 200 years ago) entered the stadium and overlooked the Act of Independence, as the liberation of the country was re-enacted.
Venezuela celebrates its 200th year of independence next year.
Hereafter, another group of dancers entered the stadium, who then danced on piano music.
Next, a more acrobatic group of dancers arrived, whose dresses resembled the Venezuelan flag and danced on rapper-like music from a popular singing duo.
It was then time for another show, as 16 huge balls were rolled into the stadium, representing the participating countries, each decorated with a flag.
Dancers then performed a characteristic dance from each of the sixteen countries, including the 'Haka' from New Zealand and of course a 'wooden shoe-like'-dance (without wooden shoes) from the Netherlands.
Traditional Venezuelan songs and dances then followed, performed by a big orchestra, singers and lots of dancers and Sofi the Cat, the mascot of the World Championship.
Big fireworks then concluded the show and also marked the entrance of the sixteen participating countries.
Before entering the field, all players had watched the preceeding show from the stands.
The biggest applause in the big, new stadium of course was for host Venezuela, which entered the stadium on its own after the other countries had entered the stadium together and took the places in the covered infield-area.
From here on, the official part of the Ceremony started, as ISF-President Don Porter started his speech.
In Spanish (with a strong English accent), Mr. Porter welcomed the distinguished guests.
In his speech, Don Porter said ''that Venezuela had presented a wonderful program to support the World Championship and to see the great athletes of the world competing here in the next ten days''.
Next, Don Porter stated: ,,Softball's Olympic heritage is wellknown from Atlanta to Sydney to Athens to Beijing and hopefully it will return to the Olympics in the future.
In respect, softball would not have had an Olympic experience without the support of the late IOC-President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
He gave softball and its athletes the opportunity and the honor to take part in the Olympic Games.
Tonight, we wish to remember him on the occasion of this World Championship.''
Don Porter concluded: ,,I express a warm and sincere appreciation to the support of President Hugo Chávez and Minister Victoria Mata in bringing the World Championship to Caracas for an exciting and peaceful event.''
Hereafter, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías welcomed the representatives of the government, Mr. Porter, special guests, members of the National Assembly, the senior military command, the Venezuelan Olympic Committee and the Venezuelan Softball Federation.
He extended another welcome for the under-16 women soccer team, which will be Venezuela's delegation for the upcoming World Championship.
President Chávez then extended a special welcome to the athletes, managers, coaches, officials and trainers of the sixteen countries, who he then all named.
The 'muchachas del mundo', the girls of the world, the young athletes from Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania and the American hemosphere.
The President then recalled a meeting he had earlier in the day with Abdessalam Ali Treki, the President of the Council of the United Nations.
,,We talked about the problems of the world, the conflicts and talked about the need of the central role of human being, education, help and social security.
That we need to find the path to peace, of human progress and the union of the people of the world.
Today, this is the answer, the culture, the sports, the unity of the people of the world.
From north to south, from west to east, here is the world in Caracas to join the world sport party in South Africa, the World Football Championship and we are here with the World Softball Championship.''
President Chávez then continued his 16 minute speech by thanking Don Porter and the ISF for having chosen Venezuela for hosting this Championship.
Special congratulations were then extended to all the workers who build the marvelous stadium, who were thanked for their hard work.
,,We have done this in a world record in time and in quality. That is the way things have to be done in the Bolivarian revolution'', President Chávez added.
After thanking the Venezuelan Softball Federation, the Venezuelan Olympic Committee, the Ministery of Sports and the Organizing Committee, Chávez specially thanked the musicians, artists and orchestra for the Opening Ceremony.
,,It was a harmony of color. Que viva la vida. Live your life'', stated President Chávez, who then added ,,We like to convey to Mr. Porter our commitment in the effort of working together with the Venezuelan Olympic Committee to advice to the International Olympic Committee for them to bring softball back to the Olympic Games.
Softball is a game with much passion, softball is a game of the people and for the mass, which deserved to be there with the other sports in the Olympic Games.''
The President then welcomed everyone ''in the first of democracies in South America, the first in South American independence, the first of Bolívar, the liberator of America''.
Next (which was around 8:30 PM), President Chávez said: ,,On behalf of the Venezuelan people, allow me to officially declare open the 12th World Women's Championship.''
After the Opening Ceremony, the President threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the first game of Venezuela vs. the Dominican Republic, which it won 1-0.
The game was mostly a pitching duel between Mariangee Bogado (Venezuela) and Melissa Pegna (Dominicans).
The Dominican Republic got a scoring opportunity in the third inning, but then a runner at home was called out.
In the sixth inning, Yurubí Alicart hit a homerun to give Venezuela an 1-0 lead and score the lone run in this game.
,,Di el jonrón por mi familia y por Venezuela'', stated Yurubí (who was 2-for-3) afterwards. ,,This homerun is for my family and for Venezuela.''
Mariangee Bogado, who gave up no hits in 4 2/3 innings, took over in the third inning for starter Yohana Gómez, who gave up one hit in the 2 2/3 inning she pitched, hit by Erika Pérez.
The Opening Ceremony
The team is ready to go to the Opening Ceremony
When the bus arrived at the stadium, the team was welcomed by a lot of children
Here, Head Coach Craig Montvidas is on his way to the stadium
...followed by Nathalie Gosewehr...
...Solange Starrenburg, Virginie Anneveld and Britt Vonk...
...and Rebecca Soumeru
The team walks to the designated players' area in the stands,
while the stands are already packed with thousands of spectators
Before the big show started, dancers already were entertaining the spectators
The 16 balls which played a role during the Opening Ceremony
Solange Starrenburg and Nathalie Timmermans take photos
Of course, there was a lot of security in, around and on the stadium
An image of Simón Bolívar, the liberator of Venezuela, on one of the big screens
The Venezuelan team on its way to the players' area
When the evening fell over Caracas, it was time for the big show to start
At look at the stadium and the spectators
The re-enactment of Simón Bolívar and the Declaration of Independence
After a singing performance, 16 balls representing the countries entered the stadium
Dancers performed characteristic dances from the 16 countries
Left the New Zealand 'Haka', right the Dutch 'wooden shoe dance'
Sofi the Cat (the mascot) and the orchestra
During the fireworks, the players entered the field...
...and were accompanied by a lot of children
Solange Starrenburg and Britt Vonk
Solange Starrenburg, Fabienne van Uden and Anne Blaauwgeers
Fireworks ended the show, then ISF-President Don Porter welcomed everyone
President Hugo Chávez Frías thanks ISF-President Don Porter, then starts his speech
The Dutch players were accompanied by children on the field
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez Frías officially opens the World Championship