寄付・募金・ボランティアのセーブ・ザ・チルドレン・ジャパン

Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami Emergency response and recovery program

“It was the best game that we had in the sixth grade”: Isobe Shiranami Girls Sports Club (November 26, 2013)

As part of the educational support for children who suffered in the Great East Japan Earthquake, Save the Children Japan (SCJ) developed the project “Sports and Culture Support Fund for Local Children” with the assistance of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In 2011 and 2012, organizations from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures were funded, and Fukushima Prefecture was added in 2013. The organizations to receive funding were decided in October. Today, I would like to tell you about the activities of Isobe Shiranami Girls Sports Club from Soma City, Fukushima. This is one of the organizations that we have supported through this fund.

 

Currently, the Isobe Shiranami Girls Sports Club has seven members from second to sixth graders in addition to one manager and three coaches. During the Great East Japan Earthquake, the tsunami swept away the homes of almost all the members along with their volleyball equipment and uniforms. The gym that they used for training survived the disaster, but the building became unusable, as it was old and dangerous. The members now practice three to five times a week at elementary or middle schools in the vicinity.

 

On Sunday November 3, 2013, the club participated in the 36th Fukushima Elementary School Volleyball Tournament Soso Preliminary Round held at the Soma City Shinchi Town Gymnasium. The children wore brand-new uniforms that they had purchased through this funding project. For the sixth graders, it was the last official game in their elementary school life.

 

Before the game, I interviewed Sachi Watanabe (6th grader), the captain of the team. She said, “As this is the last match for sixth graders, I don’t want to have any regrets during this game. I want to see everyone cooperating and giving each other encouragement during the game, and not making any errors in their play.” She also added, “We may not be strong, but we are an energetic team that never gives up.” While there was also a new member who had joined the team just one month before, we imagine that the captain tried very hard and played a leading role in unifying the team.

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At the opening ceremony, Watanabe, the team captain, gave a powerful pledge: “We pledge to demonstrate our achievements from daily practice and compete openly and fairly.”

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     A meeting before the game            Enhancing the fighting spirit in a circle!

 

The game has started! In the first match, Isobe Shiranami members played against a vigorous team that had many members. They picked up balls tenaciously until it elicited errors from their rivals, but unfortunately, they lost. The next team they played against was the strongest in the region and had many tall players. These tall players hit such sharp spikes and serves that even adults would not have been able to return them. Therefore, regrettably, they lost again.

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    Everybody! Get ready!               What a big difference in their height!

 

It was unfortunate that they lost games, but Watanabe said, “We lost the games but we could talk to each other more than usual and could keep picking up balls. It was the best game that we had in the sixth grade.” The other members of the team also showed delightful expressions. Each member talked about their goals:

 

Ÿ   Sachi Watanabe (6th grader): I want to improve my skills.

Ÿ   Natsumi Otsuka (6th grader): I want to work hard to pass more balls to other members.

Ÿ   Rina Suzuki (5th grader): I want to practice and become a much better player.

Ÿ   An Kano (4th grader): We will have a rookies match so I want to play well there.

Ÿ   Sakura Sasaki (4th grader): We will unify our hearts and do our best.

Ÿ   Ami Iwasaki (2nd grader): I will talk to other members more during the game.

Ÿ   Mio Terashima (2nd grader): I want to see everyone playing hard in these games, talking to each other more, and keep picking up balls.

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A big smile from everyone. The team members are also good friends.

 

When playing sports, one team has to win and one has to lose. However, more importantly, I believe the children’s experience in working together with their friends towards a unified goal and gaining experiences to learn and grow while receiving support from their parents and communities will remain forever in their hearts. We will keep supporting the members of Isobe Shiranami Girls Sports Club so that they can enjoy their friendships and concentrate on playing volleyball energetically.