Organizers hit fundraising home run to bring Ukrainian softball team to B.C.

Click to play video: 'Ukraine softball team determined to attend Canada Cup'
Ukraine softball team determined to attend Canada Cup
A war may be raging around them, but the Ukrainian Women's Junior National Softball team is determined to compete in this year's Canada Cup in South Surrey. Funding for amateur sports is challenging at the best of times - and with the war creating even more obstacles - the Ukrainians say they need your help. Aaron McArthur reports. – May 29, 2023

Organizers of an annual global women’s softball tournament have hit a fundraising home run, raking in enough cash to bring a Ukrainian national team to Surrey to compete.

The Canada Cup, held between July 7 and 16 at Softball City, is set to be the largest of its kind in Canadian history, with more than 1,500 elite athletes from around the world.

Athletes on the Ukrainian Women’s Junior National Softball Team, scattered across Ukraine and Poland as a result of Russia’s incursion, will now be able to attend, thanks to the efforts of hundreds of local donors.

“We can’t thank the community enough for embracing Team Ukraine with open arms and helping bring them to our tournament. We have been blown away by the generosity of people from across the country,” Canada Cup chair Greg Timm said in a Tuesday news release.

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“These young women have faced tremendous strain during the ongoing war and your financial support allows them to come to Surrey and play the sport they love on an international stage.”

Click to play video: 'Surrey helping bring Ukrainian women’s softball team to B.C. tournament'
Surrey helping bring Ukrainian women’s softball team to B.C. tournament

Canada Cup organizers launched their fundraising campaign at the end of May, after receiving a late application from the Ukrainian team and a direct request for admission from the Government of Ukraine.

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The goal was to raise $60,000 — a sum reached in less than two weeks with help from the City of Surrey, a handful of businesses and more than 500 individual donors.

Global News has reached out to Canada Cup staff for comment on this story.

Click to play video: 'Team Ukraine needs help to come to Canada Cup'
Team Ukraine needs help to come to Canada Cup

The Canada Cup is a non-profit organization that promotes local and female athletes. When the fundraiser was launched, director Laura Ballance said she was confident the community would pitch in enough to bring the Ukrainian team to Canada.

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“In 2016, our same organization hosted world championships in softball and we saw these incredible random acts of kindness,” she told Global News in May.

“We saw local business people stepping up and providing cleats, equipment to teams that have incredible economic diversity … We know that people will step up to support these young women.”

Ukraine has been under siege by Russia since February last year. Team Ukraine U19 coach Vasyl Kysil has said the women’s team is “thrilled” to be coming to Canada to compete in the world-class event.

“We have had to overcome some major obstacles, but we have remained committed to fielding an elite fastpitch team that prides itself in representing our great country,” he said last month.

The Ukrainian women are set to arrive in B.C. on July 7, and play between July 10 and 13 against teams from the Fraser Valley, Delta, Saskatoon, and the states of Washington and Georgia.

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