SOFTBALL is still taking Stacey Porter around the world but she is always happy to give up some time for the next generation of Tamworth players when she has the time.
The Australian star was back where it all began for her on the riverside fields in Tamworth yesterday, and even though the game is not as strong as when she was a kid, she is hoping to help reignite the sport locally.
“I’m having a break before I go back to Japan in about a month,” Porter said.
“I’m playing another season over there.
“A lot of these kids don’t get to see softball outside of Tamworth like I used to.
“When I was growing up there was softball everywhere.
“It’s good to tell them about what I’ve done.”
The clinic was open to young players, but also to any teachers who might want to learn about coaching softball in their schools.
Porter laments the state of the game in Tamworth and surrounds but hopes to spark some interest in the next generation.
“I think encouragement is the key,” she said.
“Like I said, they don’t get to see much softball outside of what they do here.
“It’s changed so much.
“I used to play three games a week.
“So it’s about encouraging them and I’ll also show them a few skills.”
Porter played for Japanese club Sagawa last season and is returning for another year.
She is one of only two Australians who play in the competition against the best that Japan has to offer.
“It’s the best professional league in the world,” Porter said.
“I’m lucky to have the opportunity to play there.
“The work ethic of the Japanese players is really good.
“They’re the world champs and they won the last Olympic gold medal, so it’s still massive over there.
“It’s very popular and big companies sponsor it.”
Her aim for the year is to perform well for her club, but she also has international duty to think about.
Porter is an experienced member of the Australian team and will break from her Japanese season to wear the green and gold again.
“We play the season in two halves and the first half finishes in June,” she said.
“Then we’ve got a tour with the Aussie team in July.
“We’re going to Oklahoma for the US World Cup and then move on the Canada for the Canadian Fastpitch Open.
“It’s about a three-week tour.”
Porter was part of the Aussie Spirit side that won bronze at the world championships last year.