A collaborative agreement between the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the Iran Baseball and Softball Association has been announced in an effort to expand and develop the sports in the country.
The Iran Federation of Sport Associations, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the Iranian National Olympic Committee are also part of the joint partnership, which will initially focus on providing support and guidance in training, coaching and umpiring, as well as venue construction.
It is hoped that the agreement will help to lay a foundation for introducing baseball and softball into school programmes in the country, with participation targeted at young people and women.
The establishment of new clubs for national championships is another key goal.
"WBSC is committed to the sustained global growth of our sport," said Riccardo Fraccari, WBSC President, who met with Iranian sports leaders in January to outline the benefits of developing baseball and softball in West Asia.
“The shared vision and recognition among Iran's sport leaders to promote baseball and softball in their nation is another key step forward in this regard.
“The Iranian Baseball and Softball Association under President Alireza Adib has done remarkable work in raising awareness of the benefits of our sport to Iran's young people and sports leaders.
"There is great potential to further globalise our sport and to establish elite men's and women's national teams in this key region of the world, thereby promoting both baseball/softball and Iran's brand of sports and athletes internationally.”
Among the long-term objectives of the partnership, outlined by the WBSC, will be development of facilities in the country which are capable of staging international events.
These could also serve as national and international training centres, it is hoped.
A feasibility study will be carried out on the construction of a baseball stadium in the city of Isfahan, located in the centre of the country.
It is hoped the collaboration could act as a model for countries neighbouring Iran, while the governing body is also investigating developing a similar initiative in North Korea - the world's most secretive country.
The WBSC will be sending a mass shipment of baseball and softball starter kits to Iran to help launch the scheme.
“As a global sport enjoyed and played by millions of men and women, and one of the most popular organised sports among young people, growing baseball and softball nationally and having Iran baseball and softball representatives in international competition can strengthen the connection and shared culture between Iran and the world,” said Mohammad Alipour, Iran Federation of Sport Associations President.
Iran Baseball and Softball vice-president Bahram Kardan has been appointed project manager of the initiative, which has already seen Italy's national softball team manager Marina Centrone hold intensive instructional courses at the Azadi Sports Complex, Iran's largest sports centre.