Berman pitches up in hall of fame
HAVING revolutionised British softball as a player and coach, Maccabiah stalwart Mark Berman will receive the ultimate accolade when he is inducted into the inaugural British Softball Federation (BSF) Hall of Fame at next month’s annual meeting.
Born in Ohio, but now living in Golders Green, the father-of-two told JC Sport: “It will be a huge honour when I’m finally inducted and I will be dedicating it to all those I have played with, against, coached or managed.”
Head of a London-based global advisory company, Berman, 54, was eager to develop the sport in Britain having played and coached in the US.
“I was always a firm believer that British teams could succeed with the right support,” reflected the man who led the first British softball team at the 1997 Maccabiah Games.
“After returning from Israel I approached the federation who gave me the mandate. We didn’t win a lot at first, but gradually built a network of players and by 2001 were beating the best teams in Europe.
“We continued to progress over the next few years, rising to third in Europe and also qualified for the 2004 World Championships where we achieved an official world ranking of nine.”
After a 10-year association with the BSF, Berman announced his retirement at the end of the 2005 season, but was soon back in the game as technical adviser to the Israeli women’s national softball team who are hoping to qualify for next year’s Beijing Olympics.
“An acquaintance who set-up the Israeli female team was impressed with my work for the British squad and wanted me to do the same with Israel’s women,” he reported.
Currently representing the London-based Barbarians, Berman, who has been involved in the sport for 35 years. “It has a good profile around Europe, but does not get the support and funding it deserves in Britain,” he maintained.