'Let the people of softball get together'

19 Sep, 2016 | Hungary
Jessica Alyea
OM and Erd Softball Field host the Tri. Country Danube Cup.
The softball field in Érd, Hungary, is more than a neat carpet of grass that meets a smooth plane of reddish powder. It lends a space for the connections of sport and stands as a witness for how softball has changed for the better in Eastern Europe.

It was the first regulation softball field built in the country in 2012, but its pristine appearance of today is the result of years of painstaking work by local team members. It serves the players of the OM-ministry-based Érd Baseball and Softball Club.

On 18 September, the field served as the venue for the 2016 Danube Cup, an annual tournament between the national softball teams of Hungary, Austria and Slovakia. As well as providing an opportunity to show hospitality, the event highlights the influence that Christian coaches have made in Hungary and beyond.

“[The Danube Cup] is something supported by the sports ministry here in Hungary,” says American OMer Suzanne Cole, who has coached the Érd softball team for the last six years and helps with the Hungary national team. “It rotates hosting between the countries, so we host every three years. Today has a special feel because the field looks better than it ever has.

When I first came here, it was just the Érd girls [that I worked with]. Through my interactions on the field and my playing, I was invited to help out with the national team, and so it’s just allowed me to build really good relationships with players from all the teams in Hungary. From that connection, the Lord has expanded our influence. Now, every softball player in Hungary kind of knows who I am, and it gives me the opportunity to share with them and build relationships with them.”

The atmosphere around softball in Hungary used to be a negative one, says Rebecca Lingenhoel, whose husband, Terry, started the Érd club in 2002. “Players treated each other like dirt,” she says. “There used to be a hierarchy between the players and a very dominating environment. It’s so different now -- the girls encourage each other and enjoy playing together. Suzanne made a real effort to build those relationships, even when it was hard. That influences the atmosphere across the board.”

In the Danube Cup, that positive atmosphere is recognisable to the teams from Austria and Slovakia.

“It’s a nice venue here,” says Marcel Kratochvil, who has helped coach the Austrian national team for six years now. “I appreciate how it’s organised, and people are nice. We appreciate it very much, and we enjoy it even though we lost our first game. We’ll improve with this anyway and find new friends and new people.”

Slovakia defeated Hungary in the first game at 11:00 and prevailed against Austria in the second game at 13:30 sealing the 2016 championship title. Austria was victorious over Hungary in the final game at 16:00.

Slovak coach Dusan Borbel says he’s glad his team had the opportunity to attend and to play the sport he says is most like life. “Like our last game -- many times life pushes you down, and you have to work hard to get up,” he says. “That’s great for the girls to learn how to win, how to lose, how to work with other people, to have success like a team. I’m glad we were here. I like the field, and everything here was great. It was fun weekend and maybe it could expand in the future. Let people from softball get together.”

For the Érd field, that’s the goal.

Are you a softball player with a desire to use your skills in missions? Check out OM's opportunity in Hungary to make a difference in the Hungarian softball world.

Credit: Jessica Alyea · © 2016 OM International This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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