Children of the Cheetahs Softball Club practicing some skills together.

IN recognition of its efforts to keep softball alive during 2020 of the COVID-19 pandemic, the North West Travel League was awarded the inaugural Sports Accounting Australia Sport Initiative of the Year Award.

The league comprises of the Northern District, Sunshine and Keilor Park Softball Associations.

The award, presented at the Victorian Sports Awards night, celebrated the innovative initiatives that sports produced during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In every attempt to make sure the softball season could proceed in 2020, the three associations joined forces, and had a combined 300 players, 30 officials and more than 30 volunteers to play an uninterrupted season.

Northern District Softball Association president Chaminda Fernando said all three associations were extremely lucky to have been in agreeance and willing to commit to the idea.

To ensure the North East Travel league could go ahead it had to follow a unique set of requirements including adopting modified non-contact rules to meet with distancing requirements, allowing the associations to share grounds, players, officials, equipment and volunteers, and implementing the COVIDSafe measures and protocols.

“We were really lucky that everyone was on the same page and we were lucky to be able to work together,” Mr Fernando said.

“We had worked really hard to come up with the rules and regulations to ensure the season could go ahead, and we had a strict COVID safety plan implemented really early.

“Because of that, we were able to play the full season with no cancellations.”

With restrictions easing, Northern District is looking forward to training recommencing and the season ahead.

Mr Fernando said the association ‘just cannot wait to have everyone back out there’.

“The sport and the club are just very contagious and it’s a great community to be a part of,” he said.

“Softball is a great sport to play, and accommodates for everyone; we have under 12, 14, 16, 19 and open age divisions for both men and women and offer T-ball to younger athletes.”

Northern Softball is hosting a free come and try day on Saturday, from 10am to noon for men, women, boys and girls of any age at the Northern District Softball Association on Morang Drive in Mill Park.

The first round of the Western League competition, in which Northern District will be a part of this season, will commence on November 13.

People interested in trying softball can call Kerry Laird on 0423 661 860 or Chaminda Fernando on 0402 247 801 to find out more about the come and try day or to answer any other questions.