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【CenterNews】Companies and Employees Get Together for the First “Asuchalle” Para-sports Field Day

The first “Asuchalle” Field Day was held on May 3rd in Osaka. In this new program, companies and other groups implement para-sports as field day events. Roughly 80 employees from four companies participated in the field day, enjoying their first para-sports experience while promoting exchange between employees.

Company Employees Experience Para-Sports for the First Time

The Asuchalle Field Day is a program intended for legal entities across Japan, including companies, local governments and universities. Hosted by the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center, it is operated in cooperation with JTB Corp. Teams compete to see which one will win the most total points for various Paralympic events, such as goalball, sitting volleyball and boccia. There are also other events made easier for first-time players to enjoy, such as wheelchair portball and wheelchair relays.

A huge tent, being used as part of the Umekita Hakkenden event sponsored by Nishio Rent All Co., Ltd., was the venue of the first Asuchalle Field Day. Four companies competed against each other—ASICS Corporation, Nippon Life Insurance Company, HITO-Communications, Inc. and Nishio Rent All Co., Ltd.

The field day opened with organizers’ addresses by Nishio Rent All Managing Director Kazunori Shibamoto, and Nao Ozawa, Chief Executive Officer of the Paralympic Support Center. A pledge for fair play was then made by a representative of the day’s athletes. An icebreaker event followed, with participants wearing eye masks. The participants followed instructions called out by the emcee. It included dividing up into different groups according to blood type, height and other themes. Another was to form groups of about eight people each and create specified shapes, such as an equilateral triangle, using a rope. Although participants were somewhat hesitant as they attempted to follow instructions while wearing eye masks, they enjoyed themselves. At the same time, they realized the importance of things like verbal communication and deciding on roles to be played by each team member.

Icebreaker event in which participants,
wearing eye masks, divided up into different groups as specified

Ms. Toge (fifth from the left in the back row) of ASICS Corporation said she had to overcome fear in the beginning.
Here, she can be seen cheering on her goalball teammates.

Exciting Goalball Matches and Wheelchair Relays!

Mr. Mizoshita of HITO-Communications (front row, center)
said it was difficult because his movements were limited without the use of his legs

Next, the companies competed against each other in the Paralympic goalball event. Ayumi Toge of ASICS Corporation, who participated in the event, said, “I listened closely and tried to remember to keep my arms and legs outstretched. I had to overcome my fear in the beginning, which I found difficult. However, I had received advice from a Paralympic goalball Japan national team member who works for our company. I shared that advice with others at our company, and that worked out well for us. The last event of the morning was sitting volleyball. Atsuya Mizoshita of HITO-Communications said, “It was the first time I played sitting volleyball, but I learned a lot. It was hard because my movements were limited since I couldn’t use my legs. But we really got into it—much more than we expected. I had a lot of fun.”

The afternoon began with boccia, followed by wheelchair portball and a wheelchair relay. Oversized, folded paper fans had been handed out to participants to use in cheering for team members. The rooting got excited and passionate. In the boccia matches, there were some fine plays made by women and older participants who got their balls close to the white jack ball. There were many see-saw games. Shinji Negi was captain of the Japan wheelchair basketball team at the Sydney 2000 Paralympics. He is currently the Paralympic Support Center’s Asuchalle project director. Before the wheelchair portball event, he gave a demonstration on how to operate a wheelchair as well as on dribbling a ball. Exclamations of surprise could be heard from participants. Miho Sakaguchi of Nippon Life Insurance, who played wheelchair portball for the first time, said, “I couldn’t get the wheelchair to move in the direction that I wanted. But it was easy to change directions, and it didn’t require much strength to operate the wheelchair. I enjoyed myself. I’d seen wheelchair tennis matches, but taking part in today’s field day has further boosted my interest in para-sports.”

Boccia, which is unique to the Paralympics, is a sport that highlights players’ skills and techniques

Asuchalle Project Director Shinji Negi also took part in the field day

The last event of the day was a wheelchair relay race. Everyone took part in this race, each doing a half-lap on a wheelchair around an oval course—a 10-lap relay by the 20 members of each time. A very close race ensued as each team overcame or was overcome by another team amid the loud cheering that filled the venue. In the end, it was ASICS Corporation that finished in first place. The team was also the overall champion of the first Asuchalle Field Day. Toshiyuki Akai of ASICS Corporation, who broke the goal tape as anchor, is a wheelchair athletics athlete. He said, “I had fun today. I am very grateful that people will get to know about Paralympic events through opportunities like this. We need a lot of supporters to back us up for 2020, so I hope that there will be more similar activities,” expressing his hope that this field day will develop even further going forward.

Ms. Sakaguchi of Nippon Life Insurance played wheelchair portball for the first time. She said that the field day increased her interest in para-sports.

Mr. Akai of ASICS Corporation is also a wheelchair athletics athlete.
He broke the goal tape as anchor

Applications for the Asuchalle Field Day from companies, local government, universities and other legal entitiesare being accepted through the Asuchalle Challenge for Tomorrow webpage.

text by Katsuhiro Motoyama