Team Italy softball manager Enrico Obletter in 2020 Australia Pacific Cup

Covid-19 claims the life of Team Italy softball manager Enrico Obletter

The international softball community mourns the tragic loss of Italian national women's softball team manager Enrico Obletter, a legendary sports figure synonymous with excellence and true grit. His Team Italy family-style management held everyone equally accountable for the Azzurre softball squad's success. He fostered each player's courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience, and passion. Often considered as the heart, mind and soul of Team Italy softball, Enrico Obletter in recent years has catapulted the Italians onto the global stage by capturing the 2019 European Softball Championship title and qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics after winning the 2019 WBSC Softball Europe/Africa Qualifier

It is difficult to write the right words which accurately depict the gigantic loss, dismay and disbelief that such a great man who has touched so many lives is no longer with us. He was unequivocally and universally loved and respected by his peers as well as those that he mentored and coached. Enrico Obletter took a very young and talented group of individuals and molded them into a united team of sisters who learned ever so quickly from the world-class mastermind of softball coaches. Dependable as a trustworthy and tireless father figure who would walk the ends of the earth for this players, coaches and staff so long they would never give up the fight, Enrico Obletter was an inspirational human being who left his invaluable imprint on all those who were fortunate enough to interact with him. 

Federazione Italiana Baseball Softball (FIBS) President Andrea Marcon, who remained in constant contact with the Obletter family during this difficult period, wrote a farewell letter to his longtime collaborator and friend, Enrico Obletter.

Dear Enrico,

In these final hours, since I received the news of the worsening of your medical condition, I continue to read and reread the latest messages we exchanged. Messages of affection, linked to the friendship that binds us for 30 years now and from you wanting to be close contact with me during these unprecedented times. Talking about you is not easy because in my role I should remember the great coach, the leader who more than any other in Italy was able to bring the teams he coached to triumph. But I can't think of the league titles, the cups, the titles with the national team and the Olympic qualification. I can't do it because in my eyes I only see you as a generous man with a big and genuine heart. Among the many things I learned from you is how important it is to have a solid working relationship, the one that binds me as FIBS President and you as the national softball team manager and how we keep our friendship and admiration aligned despite the circumstances. We talked, discussed, quarreled, but we have always treated each other as loyal men because together, acting in our own capacity, we knew we were pursuing a common result. I will miss the chats in the physio room, with in front of that coffee prepared with the mocha that Elio brings to every corner of the world and those loud laughs with your stories of life lived on the softball fields. I will miss the times when you explained to me the reason for your choices, although I reiterated that you didn't have to tell me anything because it is not my duty to discuss them. And every time I answered you like this, you looked at me and repeated: "You are my President and you must know." I close my eyes and see the embrace of Utrecht, after the victory over Great Britain, and I still hear your words: "I'm glad I didn't disappoint you." And the mind immediately runs to Ronchi dei Legionari, to the victory of the Under 19 European Championship when you felt bad for the emotion of having brought the National team for which you would have done everything to capture the European title. You weren't even aware that you brought tears to the eyes of the hotel manager who, after listening to your last speech to the team before getting on the bus said: "I would like to go out and play this game for him." Magnetic, competent, winning. But above all a great friend of mine and of Italian and world softball. Dear Enrico, I reread your messages again and, from the bottom of my heart, I tell you that I am immensely proud to have had you as my national team coach. Have a good trip big brother. I love you.

Andrea Marcon

The Italian softball and baseball families send their heartfelt condolences to Giovanna and the entire Obletter family as well as the countless friends who loved Enrico Obletter. Born in Sydney, Australia in 1959, Enrico Obletter returned to the land of his ancestors in the Abruzzo, Italy in 1984 to play baseball in Chieti and help the team reach its historic promotion to A2. He later become a coach for Parma in Serie A before accepting a Team Italy softball coaching position for the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Enrico Obletter became manager of the Azzurre national softball squad in 2007. As the manager for teams in Macerata, Caserta and Bussolengo, he ranks first all-time in Italian softball club history for having won more national championships and European titles than anyone.

Enrico Obletter will be sorely missed, and the world of softball will not be the same without him. However, the winning spirit of Enrico Obletter lives on within the softball sisterhood of Team Italy. As the days get closer to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, the group of Italian champions reminisce about their late and great manager's last wishes. In his loving memory, the goal of the Team Italy softball squad's mission is ever so clear: to shock the world and bring home a medal... Forza #Italia! #HicEtNunc #HereAndNow #TokyoHereWeCome

by Marco Landi and Roberto Angotti