The British Baseball Federation (BBF) is a member of the Confederation of European Baseball (CEB). CEB, the governing body for baseball in Europe, is an independent association formed by 38 National Federations of baseball.
CEB is recognised as the sole competent authority for baseball in Europe by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC); the WBSC is the sole competent authority for baseball and softball recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
On 3 and 4 February CEB held its annual Congress, along with the European Softball Federation Congress, in Belgrade, Serbia. As a voting member of CEB, the BBF was represented at the Congress by Ben Davis (Senior Commissioner) and Gerry Perez (President). Also attending the event was BSUK Joint CEO John Boyd, who works on development initiatives for the Confederation.
The two-day event included workshops on 3 February covering financial matters, development and competitions. On 4 February the Congress plenary session included nominations and voting for the nine-member CEB Executive Committee, which includes the President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Third Vice President, Secretary General, Treasurer and three Members at Large.
There were three candidates for President, one of whom (Petr Ditrich) dropped out just before the event, which left two: the current President, Jan Esselman from the Netherlands, and Didier Seminet from France.
Both candidates ran on a platform of combining the resources of the European Baseball and European Softball Federations.
Just before the voting, Jan Esselman shocked the attendees by announcing his resignation. Esselman has served the CEB for 24 years as a Secretary, Chair of the Technical Commission and President. So Didier Seminet became the new President-elect. What followed was a complete change of the Executive Committee as a complete slate of new members was elected with the exception of Krunoslav Karin from Croatia.
The Executive Committee now consists of 1st Vice President Petr Ditrich from the Czech Republic), 2nd Vice President Jürgen Elsishans from Germany), 3rd Vice President Rainer Husty from Austria), Secretary General Krunoslav Karin from Croatia, Treasurer Rene Laforce from Belgium) and Members at Large Roderick Balk (Netherlands), Marco Mannucci (Italy) and Oleg Boyko (Ukraine).
The 2017 CEB Congress was attended by several guests, including WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.
Various awards were made, including to Jason Holowaty, formerly MLB's Europe Development Director, who was honoured with the special Xavier Mateu Award for services to European Baseball.
BBF President Gerry Perez writes:
As a CEB member, we are able to co-operate with other European Federations and compare our programmes and accomplishments with theirs. In retrospect, the CEB Congress was a great opportunity to network with peers, and we heard positive feedback about our national and club teams participating in CEB competitions.
The fact that our teams now compete among the best in Europe shows we are steadily improving and being noticed. A lot of praise goes to our representative club teams and to GB Baseball for their preparation and competiveness in CEB Qualifiers and the European Championship.
We also took the opportunity to understand what we need to do to enhance our reach and how to position ourselves in CEB so we can be a constructive stakeholder in the baseball community outside the UK and take advantage of international opportunities.
On behalf of the BBF, we wish the new Executive Committee of CEB much success and we offer congratulations to Jason Holowaty on his award. Special thanks go to both John Boyd and Jenny Fromer (who was attending the ESF Congress), who are both veterans of European Congresses and were very helpful to Ben and me over the two days. We want to also extend our warm wishes to departing President Jan Esselman, who for 24 years was instrumental in developing the foundation for the excellence that CEB displays today.
Next year's CEB Congress will be held in Paris, France.
Later this year, the Southampton Mustangs will compete in Pool 2 in the CEB Federations Cup in Belgrade, Serbia in June and the London Mets will be competing at the same time in Pool 3 in Stockholm. GB Baseball's new U23 team will compete in the European Championship Qualifiers in Austria from 7-13 August.
We will be offering full support to Southampton, the London Mets and the GB Baseball U23s this summer!