10 years! Just can’t believe it! A dream that was shared by everyone, a sport that was loved by everyone, a tournament that became the spirit of sportsmanship and a bond that developed more friends that I could have ever imagined. Amit Joshi Memorial Softball Tournament or now rebranded and known as ASL (AAY’s Softball League) has now become a respectable name in all of India. The players who played the first year would remember how quickly this idea was materialised. An emotional attempt to bring friends together and contribute to the sport that made us who we are today. More than 1000 players have played this tournament and all of them have only good memories of these ten years. I remember each and every year how it evolved and how we made true every dream that we had seen as a young player.
- The first ever tournament to be played under lights
- The first ever tournament where all the players contribute in both organizing as well as playing
- The first ever tournament where players share the gimmicks of the game with their rivals freely during the tournament
- The first ever tournament where an “amazing catch” or “strike out” or “homerun” is cheered by everyone regardless of who takes it
- The first ever tournament where guests wait till the match is over to greet the players
- The first ever tournament where there is no politics involved
- The first ever tournament where trophies were given by parents and grandparents who came to cheer for their kids
The list is endless and this is just Level 1 which I am talking about.
The first year was such a big success that players couldn’t control the flow of ideas that came through. The strength from the first year paved way for expanding the tournament into 2 levels. The first level was the intended to develop the sport in Pune and also provide a platform for upcoming/new teams across Maharashtra. It was also an emotional promise made by us to meet each year atleast once and play. It was also a small token of gratitude towards the sport which developed us as good human beings.
The teams playing at level 1 were intended to focus only on developing their softball game and look forward to becoming a better sportsmen. It is difficult to believe how true this intent still is. Even teams and players not selected to playing the Level 1 come to watch and learn this sport. They share ideas and cheer for teams they have seen for the first time. Without any barriers of caste and creed everyone is considered equal at AJMST.
Level 2 is a different ball game altogether. Efforts from senior members of the game helped in getting 12 sponsors. This sponsorship changed the face of the game. All teams got individual sponsors along with team kits, accommodation, food and travel allowance. The tournament ground also got a facelift. More lights, fence, stands, podium, live telecast, cash prizes and lots more. It’s a super tournament of sorts where some players consider to be better than the official All India Tournament that is being held each year.
This journey of AJMST or ASL will continue in the years to come with bigger dreams being realised and even better players who would contribute to the sport. You never know, a team who started playing in AJMST or ASL might even go ahead and win the World Series! I thank everyone who played and grew the tournament, who put their heart and soul into its success.
This was our team which won the first ever #AJMST!