SBSFs styrelse har utsett välmeriterade Israel ”Izzy” Nukunuku från Nya Zeeland till förbundskapten för svenska herrlandslaget i softboll, som till sommaren ska spela Softboll-EM i Havlickuv Brod, Tjeckien. Vi har gjort en intervju med ”Izzy” inför sommarens EM.
First, a warm welcome to Sweden, Izzy! You have an extensive background in international softball, can you give us a brief recap of your accomplishments so far
– I first started coaching on international stage 2006 with the Danish Men’s team as an assistant coach and moving forward from there to World Championships with the junior and men’s sides in years to come including last two years to European Championships and World championship (3) in total worlds
– However I also have been assistant coach for New Zealand women team and Junior girls, heading to (3) different world championships with them as well. I have a also assisted and been head coach of the Netherlands men’s team through to two world championships. In total I have been coaching for 24 years.
You are also the head coach for the women’s fastpitch team in Denmark. What are (if any) the main differences between male fastpitch and women’s fastpitch generally?
– The speed of the game is a lot quicker in men’s game and this means you need to keep eye on everything. In women’s game the understanding of the game is a lot more precise as you need to explain logistics and parts of the game are more strategical
You had a first practice with the potential EM players in December and also a tryout in January. What are your first impressions with the players that have participated?
– Well I was pleasantly surprised, the skill sets were rusty but the heart and drive to do well was there. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot to work on but when you have that drive it’s easier to channel in the right direction.
Most of the players have a baseball background – what are the main challenges for former baseball players to prepare themselves as softball players?
– To learn how to hit a rise ball, and that the speed of the game is faster so they need to get rid of the ball faster.
As for the EM in Havlickuv Brod, currently there are 12 teams subscribing to the event, with Lithuania doing their debut. How many players have you planned on taking with you to the EM? Any thoughts or goals you want to share with us?
– We will look to take a full roster of 17 players, two may include me and Lewis (Hamilton) who will be doing the coaching – just due to lack of pitching that we might have to be on this roster.
– But goal is to be competitive in every game, some have goals on winning their first games – but if we stay competitive we can win this and more .
How does your preparations for the EM look?
– We are training every month, sometimes twice, and everyone has own stuff to work on in down time. Because we are self funded we can only do so much as families and work are a priority, but we look to enter a tournament in Copenhagen (Amager Vikings), as well as the Baltic Open so hoping to get in 13 games before we go to the EM.
As for the future development of mens fastpitch in Sweden – what are the key points for the discipline of men’s softball to develop and become bigger in Sweden?
– We just need to approach it from the stand point that we are a small sport and when baseball players either get to old or have a thought let’s try something new then why not try where the balls only bigger and faster so not much to change
– But also need to start having men’s teams in sweden competition there are a lot of men out their who need a sport to play
Vi önskar Israel “Izzy” Nukunuku och resten av gänget I herrlandslaget softboll varmt lycka till i de fortsatta förberedelserna för Herr-EM i Softboll!