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Black Sox softball tour to Venezuela cancelled for security reasons

August 11, 2016

Wellington, NZ - Black Sox softball tour to Venezuela cancelled for security reasons

Black Sox infielder Jerome Raemaki made a United States tournament all-star team and may tour Argentina in November



The New Zealand Black Sox softball team have been forced to abort November's planned tour to Venezuela due to political unrest but they will play a mini-tournament in Argentina instead.

Softball New Zealand (SNZ) chief executive Tony Giles said the Las Americas Cup tournament set to feature eight of the world's top teams had been cancelled.

"It came down to security reasons around political unrest in Venezuela, particularly in Caracas, and a little bit of fear around the Zika virus, which has since been mitigated," Giles said.

The New Zealand government's Safe Travel website lists Venezuela as presenting "some risk" to "extreme risk" in some areas.

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Giles said the warnings had made it impossible for the Black Sox to get travel insurance to visit Venezuela, but "in the end the organisers cancelled the whole tournament".

The Venezuela tournament - billed by Black Sox head coach Mark Sorenson as "a virtual mini world series" - was to be critical to the Black Sox's buildup for the 2017 world championships in Canada.

Sorenson had been keen to tour Venezuela to test his players' resilience, but that was before the travel warnings were issued.

Giles said after the tournament was cancelled SNZ had contacted the Argentina Softball Federation, "who have agreed to host ourselves and the Czech Republic" in a mini-tournament in Parana.

The Black Sox will be in Argentina for 12 days from November 7 and will play the series over seven days.

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Giles said Sorenson will travel to the International Softball Congress tournament in Iowa next week on a scouting mission.

A number of leading Black Sox players will be appearing at the tournament, rated the most prestigious club event in world softball.

Black Sox infielder Jerome Raemaki was named in the first all-star tournament team at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) tournament in Kimberley, Wisconsin last weekend. Black Sox training squad member Hohepa Monk (Waikato) and Junior Black Sox representative Jarome McKenzie (Auckland) were selected as outfielders in the second team.

Sorenson will name the Black Sox squad for the Argentina tour after a training camp in Gisborne in September.

Meanwhile, Giles confirmed SNZ would soon start its review of the New Zealand White Sox's women's world championships campaign.

He said it was an exciting time for women's softball after confirmation the sport will be back on the roster at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The White Sox may look to tour Japan next year to prepare for the 2018 world championships in Chiba, near Tokyo.

Giles said SNZ were looking to kick off a new national pitching development programme next summer and were talking to former Black Sox and United States pitching star Michael White, who now coaches the University of Oregon women's softball team, about a visit home in December to launch the scheme.

Talks were also being held with White about bringing his Oregon team to New Zealand "at the back end of our domestic season, which is their pre-season".




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