Excitement grows, nations around the world target inaugural WBSC Baseball5 World Cup

Global baseball-softball activity is on the rise as more nations roll out Baseball5 programmes. The five-on-five game only requires a ball to play, eliminating the need for expensive equipment and specific venues, which in the past have been challenges to growing the game in important regions like Africa and Europe.

Baseball5, the young five-on-five variant, is booming and helping to expand the reach of the sport into new and emerging baseball-softball territories. More National Federation Members than ever are now targeting WBSC World Cups, thanks to Baseball5, which will also make its Youth Olympic Games debut in 2026.

Five National Teams out of 12 have qualified for the WBSC Baseball5 World Cup, scheduled for later this year in Mexico:

Africa (2): Kenya, South Africa
Europe (2): France, Lithuania
Host (1): Mexico

Asia will qualify three teams through the inaugural Baseball5 Asia Cup, scheduled from 17 to 19 August in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Teams from the Americas (3) and Oceania (1) are to be determined later.

The qualifiers for the first-ever Baseball5 World Cup started in early 2020. The European Championship featured 14 participating National Teams. France won the first-ever Baseball5 European title and qualified for the World Cup together with the runner up, Lithuania.

Kenya and South Africa qualified out of the Baseball5 African Championship, a tournament that marked a milestone in the history of baseball/softball thanks to the number of participants.

“This tournament was a great success,” said Angelo Vicini, WBSC Treasurer and Chair of the WBSC Development Commission. “It’s historical to see an African Qualifier to a WBSC World Cup with nine participating National Teams. Let me also add that the level of play was impressive. As the WBSC, we believe the Baseball5 African Championship will represent a milestone in development.”

Vicini added: “Africa has always faced challenges because of the lack of dedicated baseball/softball venues. Baseball5 offers a great opportunity to the National Federations. I think Africa can compete on the Baseball5 World Stage, and this will get more attention from the Olympic Committees and the local governments.”

“Baseball5’s accessibility has increased our ability to grow our sport globally and bring the skills and the values of baseball/softball to young people in under-served communities,” added WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari.

The Baseball5 African Championship was a first for the host nation Tanzania.
“It’s a big event, the first of this magnitude in Africa and, of course, the first in Tanzania,” commented Alpherio Morris Nchimbi, the secretary-general of the Tanzania Baseball Softball Association (TaBSA). The biggest challenge was finding local sponsors. Baseball/softball in Tanzania is a new game compared to sports like soccer or track and field.

What makes Baseball5 peculiar is the mixed format.

“It’s the first time that boys and girls can play together. I think the mixed format is great,” commented Mariska Barnard, South Africa’s captain. “It forces the boys to take the girls into consideration and forces the girls to level up their game. It’s great for development.”

Baseball5 will be part of the programme of the 2026 Youth Olympics, to be hosted by Dakar, Senegal.

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Credits: WSBC