Baseball diamonds, batting cages, hot dogs, the cheers as a runner scores at home plate; you’d think that all these things could only be found across the Atlantic but they are quite the norm for most of the year at Cairo’s Victoria College in Maadi.
Located in the quiet neighbourhood of Maadi Degla round the corner from Maadi Grand Mall, on the small square facing Mix&Match, the Cairo American Softball League offers an autumn and spring season of competitive but friendly softball men’s and women’s leagues. The grounds have two softball fields complete with dugouts, score boards and lights to allow for night games.
The facilities also include a large parking lot– a rarity in and of itself in Cairo– with a concession stand that sells hot dogs, hamburgers and French fries as well as root beer. The bathrooms have also recently been renovated; they’re generally kept rather clean and stocked with toilet paper.
The men’s league had thirteen teams this season while the women’s league had five, with many bearing the names of their company sponsors or the name of the organisation or school that most of the players are from.
According to the league website, the league was founded in 1976 as a friendly series of softball games. The league has now transformed itself into a sustainable enterprise that maintains the fields, provides grounds security and most of all; has created a diverse community of people coming together to play softball.
While many players are American or Canadian, there are numerous communities and nationalities represented in the league, some of whom come to learn how to play softball for the very first time.
There is no cost to play, although there is usually a fundraiser each season. Companies and organisations supplement these fundraisers by sponsoring teams, with Coca Cola recently becoming the field sponsor and subsequently painting anything that it can find red.
Most teams play around two games per week, with games occurring almost every day of the week. The end of each season is the all-important tournament that determines the season’s champion. Interested participants can visit the CASL website and go to either the women’s or men’s league section to find contact information.
The best part of CASL is the sense of community that it creates. In a large and bustling city like Cairo, this is sometimes difficult to find. Some of the people that play in the league take the games and their performances seriously, while others come out just to have a good time.Whatever the reason for playing, CASL provides an organised and structured sports league for a rather untraditional sport in Egypt. CASL does a great job of providing a quality athletic league, so give it a shot whether to try something new or to meet some new friends.