Little League is a competition based program, with divisions of play to cater for those from 4-18 years old.
Little League started as a three-team league in 1939 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The first Little League World Series was held in 1947 and during this series all teams, except one, were from Pennsylvania, USA.
From these humble beginnings , Little League International (LLI) has grown to one of the most recognisable sporting brands in the world and is one of the largest global sporting organisations. There are over 2.6 million people across 75 countries participating annually.
Expansion to Australia
Australian Little League was first launched in 2007 with baseball. There are now 477 chartered baseball teams and over 4,500 participants between the ages of 11 and 12 across all states and territories making it one of the fastest growing grassroots sports in Australia. Australia is the fourth largest Little League country in terms of participation, with 20 teams participating in the National Baseball Little League Championships each year.
Little League Softball
Little League consists of two distinct phases – regular season play and tournament play.
In regular season play, between 4 and 10 teams from a local area are grouped together to form a ‘charter’. A charter committee is appointed, who are responsible for managing the requirements of the charter.
The teams in a charter play against each other, with each team playing a minimum of 12 games in a season. At the end of the season, the best players from the charter are selected into a charter representative team, for tournament play.
In tournament play, teams from different regions play against each other, with winners progressing through the pathway, culminating in the World Series, held in the US.
In Australia, the current association model fits in well with the charter model. Associations who currently have between 4 and 10 teams in their U13 Girls competition may be able to simply re-badge their competition as Little League. The current association committee can act as the charter committee, or a sub-committee can be appointed by the association to manage the requirements of the charter.
At the end of regular season play, associations can select a representative team and enter the tournament pathway.
The major difference with the Little League tournament pathway is that it is the charter representative team that progresses through the pathway. A team from a local area can end up representing their country on the international stage.
Benefits of Little League
- Pathway program that develops local teams rather than focussing on elite
- Focus on developing athletes’ character
- The structure offers a complete package with resources to support all facets of the program including charter governance
- Large successful organisation (2.6 million participants)
- LLI allows some flexibility with charter requirements for Australian market
- Leverage an International brand and marketing of LLI
- World Series TV coverage on ESPN
- Leverage off Baseball program, seen as expansion to softball rather than rolling out a new program
- Great connection into the US
- Possible program to engage schools
- Incentive for non-affiliates to re-affiliate
Join the Little League Softball Pathway!
If you would like to join the Little League pathway, please contact Ben Utting, Sport Development Manager at [email protected] to register your interest.