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    Sierra Leone

    Support our upcoming Softball for Success Summer Camp in June 2024 in Sierra Leone! Click here to learn more!


    In Sierra Leone, we partner with youth soccer club Vintage Academy as well as other community-based sports clubs and organizations to engage both young people and adults through softball and provide holistic support and youth development programming for young players.



    The leadership of Vintage Academy first approached Philadelphia Adult League Softball about the potential of partnering together to introduce softball as an additional or alternative sport for their young soccer players in March 2020 and, as we learned more about their work, we immediately wanted to get involved.


    In November of 2021, we hosted a mini-USA Quickball clinic as a pilot with players for the Vintage 14U girls soccer team and, through PALS, returned in June 2022 to donate over 1,300 pounds of equipment, as well as school supplies, and host a free four-day USA Quickball softball and baseball skills camp camp for 170 young people from five soccer clubs including Vintage Academy Lumley and Lakka, Prospect Foundation, Amie Morie/Hereford, and Fants Hill Station. The equipment donations were made possible through contributions from many individual donors and organizations including Pitch In For Baseball + Softball, Drew University, Arcadia University, Lower Merion Little League, Media Area Girls Softball, the Big Apple Softball League, the Clinton Sport Shop, and the Neshaminy Wildcats. Each participant received a t-shirt, lunch, snacks, beverages, a backpack with school supplies, and free transportation to and from the field each day. Three members of the leadership team from the Belize City Softball Association in Belize also traveled to Freetown to support these initiatives.


    In addition, we facilitated training for the adult soccer coaches, and hosted a USA Quickball clinic with 290 young people from the Sierra Leone Cricket Association. Following the camp, Vintage Academy hosted several clinics for young people and facilitated multiple adult trainings and scrimmages, and we continued to support them through virtual training.


    Current + Future Programming

    With the incorporation of Change Up Sports, and in coordination with our partners, our priority for 2024 and beyond is to continue to strengthen, deepen, and expand our work in and around Freetown with a focus on establishing longer-term, sustainable youth development programming through softball, engaging a greater number of young people, and providing more in-depth training and playing opportunities for adults to build capacity to work with young players through the following initiatives:


    Softball for Success

    Softball For Success is a community-based youth development and girls empowerment program for teenage girls ages 12 to 18 in Freetown that melds softball instruction, practice, and games with holistic youth development activities including life skills and leadership workshops, academic support, cultural activities, community service, and team building opportunities. The program also seeks to develop positive, supportive adult connections and reduce barriers to participation by providing meals and transportation as well as school supplies, athletic clothing, personal care products, and nutrional support for families to help ensure participants’ needs are met off the field. In addition, Softball for Success has a medical fund in the event that any medical or dental care is needed.


    After an introductory session in December 2023 to introduce the participants to the program (including a painting workshop through Bondumani Art Center as well as a yoga class through This is Yoga Sierra Leone, as well as a parent/family meeting and focus group), the five-week inaugural pilot program kicked off in February 2024. 39 girls participated in a total of ten positive and inclusive softball learning sessions twice a week where they learned all aspects of the game with an emphasis on fun, friendship, confidence-building, and good sportsmanship that culminated with a championship game and a closing banquet, including trophies for all participants.


    On the weekends, they took part in team building/leadership workshops and youth development activities including trying indoor rock climbing through Climb Salone, taking part in swimming lessons through Ahma Surf, going to the movies, participating in a women’s health workshop through Uman Tok, visiting Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary, touring the National Museum and the National Railway Museum, and relaxing with a mindfulness and meditation class through This is Yoga Sierra Leone.


    All sessions and activities included meals, snacks, and beverages and all participants received a backpack filled with school supplies, personal care products including resuable menstrual products, athletic clothing including sports bras and underwear, cleats, and a 110 pound bag of rice for their families. They also received a daily transportation stipend to and from the field as well as group transportation to and from youth development activities. Finally, participants received medical and dental care as needed including treatment for nine girls for conditions such two cases of epilepsy, an eye infection, malaria, typhoid, UTIs, broken molars, ulcers, and more.


    The next session of Softball for Success is a six-week daycamp that will take place from June 23 through June 28, 2024. Click here to learn more and make a donation to support the girls in the program!


    Softball Salone

    Softball Salone is a free and inclusive mixed-gender adult slow-pitch softball league–with an emphasis on learning the game–offered in Freetown that enables adult coaches and players to enjoy the many benefits that recreational sports can offering while also helping the participants to become more familiar with the game so that they are better positioned to work with young people as softball coaches, as adult involvement and investment is critical to the success of youth programs. The season incorporates training, instruction, and practice as well as league play. The pilot season of Softball Salone will start on February 4, 2024.


    Coaches Trainings + Adult Outreach

    In February 2023, we hosted a four-day coaches training for 20 adult coaches that focused on history, rules, and instruction through fielding, hitting, pitching, and baserunning drills and culminated with games designed for teaching and learning. The coaches have continued to host weekly scrimmages to practice and develop their skills and we have continued to provide virtual support. In December 2023, we hosted a three-day follow-up coaches training for 27 adult coaches to continue to build on their skills and prepare them to work with young people. We are also currently developing instructional videos and materials in both English and Krio to enhance the virtual training that we can provide.


    In December, we hosted a free CPR/First Aid training for 58 adult coaches and community members in coordination with the Sierra Leone Lifesaving Society.


    Youth Focus Groups

    In February 2023, we facilitated a focus group for 24 young players from the Vintage Academy 14U girls team who participated in our camp in June 2022 to better understand what they like about playing soccer and softball and what their barriers are to playing so that we can address these challenges in our programming. Key barriers include lack of transportation, limited funds, little access to equipment and uniforms, issues with family support and buy-in, managing other responsiblities such as housework and school, the inability to pay for medical care and/or keep playing if they are injured, and the need for pads/sanitary napkins.


    Equipment + Supply Donations

    In 2023, we contributed 480 pounds of softball, soccer, and cricket equipment, toiletries, school supplies, and first aid items valued at over $7,500 in coordination with our partners in Sierra Leone


    Coaches Connection Mentorship Program

    Coaches Connection is a penpal and mentorship program that matches adult softball and baseball players and coaches in the Philadelphia area with adult players and coaches in Sierra Leone who are new to the game to foster learning, skills development, and friendship. Sierra Leonean coaches and players are able to virtually ask questions, get support, and gain 1:1 mentorship and Philadelphia coaches and players are able to provide guidance, encouragement, and training resources. When possible, participants who play similar positions are connected to one another to foster skill development and strengthen connections. There are currently six pen pal matches between Change Up Sports board members and adult players in Sierra Leone.


    Sierra Leone Medical Fund

    In 2023, we established a medical fund to cover the costs of treatment related to any medical issues that arise during trainings, games, or programming for young people and adults, as medical care is very difficult to access and afford in Sierra Leone and health insurance is limited. This fund also provides comprehensive first aid kits for our partners and programs and funds CPR/First AID training for the coaches (the first of which took place in December 2023 through the Sierra Leone Lifesaving Society). To date, we have covered the cost of care for ten participants in the Softball for Success program, five adult coaches, and two spectators.