It was the final week of May and sixteen members of the Australian Emerald’s baseball team were en route to Jakarta to give back to the sport they love, internationally. We weren’t just there for training and coaching, this time it was different. We had a vision to promote gender empowerment, leadership, increase people-to-people links and reduce family violence. We didn’t really know what to expect but when we arrived, it became pretty clear that it was more than just a baseball program.
In Indonesia, girls don’t play baseball after the age of 12 as it’s generally softball that is promoted from that point onwards. Baseball is seen as a male sport and softball is the female counterpart. There was so much surprise that we were women, we were playing baseball and we were going against the stereotype. We wanted to promote women to be empowered to make informed choices as much as possible. We wanted to show them that you can do anything with your life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit left field, don’t let people tell you that it’s beyond your limits and just go for it.
The Diamonds and the Emeralds undertook off-field experiences together, including goal setting, leadership skills, team building and on-field coaching; throwing, catching, batting and fielding. I remember asking the girls “What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to achieve?” Answers were pretty broad, highly ambitious and quite inspirational; doctors, interior designers, professional athletes and artists. It was so good to see that they’re aiming high.
The aspect of the program that was unexpected was the friendships that were built between the Emeralds and the Diamonds throughout the week. These girls were some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. They came to watch the games that the Emeralds played against the local men’s teams (the men had never played against women before!). The amount of people that turned up to support and cheer passionately was absolutely incredible. I think everyone was intrigued at how we’d go and it was all a bit of a novelty… the crowd was going berserk. We won two, drew one and lost one. We did well!
We reciprocated this support in going to watch and cheer the girls on while they played in a local softball tournament. It was fantastic to go to the field and have the Diamonds be so excited to see you there and come and speak to you, despite the language barrier.
I feel really lucky to have been granted such an amazing opportunity to Pay it Forward. It’s right up there as one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. Isn’t it interesting that sometimes by paying it forward, you end up being the one benefiting just as much, if not more from the experience.
Amy Collins is a pitcher for the Australian Women's Baseball team, The Emeralds.