Heavy Hitters softball tournament set for May

Teams have a chance to support a worthy cause and have a weekend of fun at the same time

Twice a year, expats and other fans of softball have a chance to play ball and help an NGO raise money for education.

The Heavy Hitters International Charity Softball Tournament takes place for the 36th time on May 21–22, and teams still have a chance to enter at the early bird rate until May 5. After that, teams can still register but at the late riser rate.

Proceeds from the tournament support the Prague Post Endowment Fund (PPEF), which is continuing its work despite the Prague Post suspending publication. The foundation has long been independent of the publication that it shares a name with. The tournament now has a new media partner, Prague.TV.

PPEF uses the funds from the tournament for several programs: providing books to schools, training teachers and subsidizing teachers for children in hospitals.

Heavy Hitters gives us a good opportunity to meet our supporters and helps us build bonds and trust for a what we hope can be long-term relationships. The weekend gives us all a chance to meet face to face and makes supporting a good cause fun,” said Šimona Huitric, director of PPEF.

Teams that participate in the tournament can look forward to five or six games, with winners getting trophies.

Between games there is chance to meet new people and drink some beer. Families are welcome, and children usually also find some new friends.

There is no need to pack a picnic lunch, as food and refreshments will be available at the field and money from refreshments will also support the foundation.

While softball is the matter at hand, games of Frisbee and such have been known to break out on the sidelines, especially if the weather is nice.

There are two leagues of teams, so people who are new to the game or haven't played in years need not worry about getting trounced. There is a fun-oriented recreational league and more serious sports league.

For both leagues, the teams are coed, meaning at least two women have to play. And conversely, at least two men have to be on a team but so far this has not been a problem in practice. Teams need at least 10 people

When the tournament began in the 1990s, virtually all of the teams were made up of local expats but now the teams fall into three groups — company- or school-sponsored teams of local expats mixed with Czech players still are the largest group. Second is teams from Western Europe including US Embassy teams from other countries. Finally, there is now a small number of teams of expats coming from Kuwait and Dubai for a relaxing sports weekend.

Another group is just as important, friends and families of players who come to watch and have a good time.

Longtime participants in the tournament include Bohemia Bagel, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Canadian Medical Care, and The Globe.

Softball has a bit of history in the Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia. Even though it was a decadent American game, there was a loophole. It was also popular in Cuba, and this let it sneak in under the wire as a communist-approved pass time.

There are a number of softball and baseball fields in Prague, but the best by far is in Krč. The field also comes with professional umpires, which helps settle minor disputes and keeps the tournament at a high level.

Teams can also look forward to a banquet after the tournament ends at one of the sponsoring establishments. And everyone gets a T-shirt.

Prague Post Endowment Fund (PPEF) www.ppef.cz

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