News: Seahorses come to station to reach one, teach one
Story by Lance Cpl. Kenneth Trotter
IWAKUNI, Japan - The Southern California Seahorses were at the Matthew C. Perry soccer field here teaching children the fundamentals of soccer as part of the 2011 Marine Corps Community Service Command sports camps July 12-15.
The Seahorses are a motivational, religious soccer team based out of La Mirada, Calif. They divide their time between travelling across Japan, parts of Asia and the U.S. west coast.
The Seahorses used their knowledge of soccer to give the children an opportunity to improve their soccer abilities, but also serve as a springboard to minister and provide an understanding of different cultures.
“We’re mixing two things we love: our faith and soccer,” said Bill Galipault, the Seahorse tour director. “The emphasis is on fun. Some of these kids are soccer. You can see it. But a lot of them are out here for the first time learning the fundamentals and having fun.
Approximately 50 children signed up for the camp, ranging in age from 5-15.
The Seahorses’ stop here at the air station is one of several they
will have across Japan and Asia. The organization has visited the air station six times since its founding in 1983, from 1997- 1999, 2004, and 2010-2011.
The camp focused on different aspects of the game over the four days. The first day was spent making sure the children had a basic understanding of soccer. The next three days after that were broken down into various activities.
Each day focused on a component of soccer such as passing, receiving, controlling and shooting. The last day had the children dressing up in different outfits.
“Every day they’re doing something different with us out here,” said Michael Coletta, 13, a camp participant. “I’ve only played soccer for two years and I hope being out here will make me a better all-around player.”
The Seahorse players were fewer in number than originally anticipated. Normally, the team travels with 16 players but were limited to 11.
“It was difficult for us in the sense we only had 11 players,” said Galipault. “But we still thought it important to come and bridge a cultural gap,” Galipault added.
The team not only took up time with the base resident’s children; they even found time to engage in a friendly soccer game the first evening against a team comprised of Japanese Defense Force service members. The two teams were integrated and players chosen randomly.
Galipault said the reason for mixing the two teams was to provide a chance for the game to be balanced and fair.
He also added that the game served as a way for the players to interact with foreign nationals and see their culture and faith in action.
“After the earthquake in March, I was asked did I want to go to Japan to help,” said Candice L. Sherman, a Seahorse player. “I just remembered seeing the earthquake and it broke my heart seeing the images and the hurt. I thought it was the perfect time to go and share the hope that I have in life. That’s why I came.”
The Seahorses are scheduled to travel north as they continue to use their soccer skills and faith to motivate others.
For children, they will continue to teach them the fundamentals of a game that can bring about cohesion and camaraderie.
For Japanese residents, their message of hope and adversity will inspire them.