The Grande Prairie Pirates Minor Fastball Association is set to welcome teams from across northwestern Canada for the 2023 U13 and U15 Provincial Softball Championships.
The event has gotten support from the County of Grande Prairie, which recently approved $5,000 in funding towards a Diamond Sponsorship for the weekend competition. Fundraising Coordinator Rhiannon Bradley says the funding is huge as the price tag to put on the event is $60,000.
“We will see 24 teams, 10 from Alberta for each division, and we also have been approached to have a team from each division from the Yukon and the Northwest Territories attend and compete at our provincials as well. So that means lots of people coming and seeing our beautiful city, seeing the wonderful things the Peace country has to offer, and have the experience for our kids to compete at the provincial level for a sport we hold near and dear to our heart.”
Along with working with the Pirates, Bradley is also the Zone Eight District Organizer with Softball Alberta and says bringing events like provincials to the region will help grow the sport.
“It means we can get more diamonds, more funding, and a bigger facility. We have hosted men’s nationals here once, and that was an amazing event, and moving forward something like provincials is just a gateway.”
Both provincial competitions will be held at the South Bear Creek Baseball Diamonds the weekend of July 7th to 9th. Bradley explains along with sponsorship and community support, for the weekend to be a success they will need quite a few umpires.
In 2020, the Pirates organization started with 40 girls and by 2021 saw that number grow to 103 registered. In 2022, a boys league was added and 231 kids were enrolled in the minor program.
Bradley says so far there are 248 youth enrolled in the upcoming season making them the second largest boys program and third largest minor program within Softball Alberta.