News: Station hosts soccer tournament, welcomes Japanese youth
Story by Pfc. David Walters
IWAKUNI, Japan - As clouds cover the sky and rain falls, the sound of cleats splashing through wet grass and kicking soccer balls echoed through Penny Lake Fields aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Oct. 5, 2013.
Marine Corps Community Services hosted an all-day, double-elimination soccer tournament in which three Japanese teams and two station teams, all junior high, competed.
The purpose of the event was to express good will and build a sense of community with the Japanese and the Americans aboard station according to Tammie Kaman, MCCS athletic director.
“It’s important for us to show our local community that we care about the same things they care about,” said Kaman. “It builds a better understanding of each other’s cultures.”
The tournament began with Hatsukaichi Junior High School soccer team defeating the Galaxy, a junior high soccer team from aboard station, in a match 8-0.
Hatsukaichi JHS soccer team swept through the competition to win the tournament as undefeated champions.
It wasn’t about winning or losing to the participants, but about giving both Japanese and American a way to have fun and build new friendships, said Charles Hill, referee at the tournament.
“I think it gives the base kids a chance to mingle with the Japanese nationals, especially the ones that don’t get to get off base very much,” said Hill. “Plus, it brings the Japanese nationals on base, so they can experience the American culture at the same time. The cross culture is good for both sides.”
Soccer is a sport played on all corners of Earth. Sometimes, it can act as a language that is understood by people of two different origins that know nothing about each other, and to Hill, finding that one common interest is what helps foster relationships.
“Soccer is international, so it’s a way both sides can come on and experience each other’s culture, have a good time and break that barrier that is obvious between Japanese nationals and kids on the base,” said Hill. “(Japanese nationals) don’t get a lot of chances to come on and experience something like this, so for them it’s a big deal. Not just playing soccer, but experiencing what life is like on base.”
Japanese and American soccer teams, in the 10 to 12-year-old age group, will face off in a single-elimination tournament at Penny Lake Fields Oct. 19, 2013, at 9 a.m.