At Nadia International’s Soccer Friendly Cup, Building Relationships Is the Goal

Education - June 28th, 2016
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Bringing communities together through the power of sport.

Nadia NPO is actively supporting many projects for children affected by the March 11, 2011 disaster in Tohoku. Since 2013, Nadia has delivered over 18 new “Playgrounds of Hope” to disaster-stricken areas in Tohoku, in addition to sending children affected by the Fukushima disaster to summer homestays in Italy and rebuilding a new community center/soccer club house in Rikuzentakata. The Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup is the result of a collaborative proposal to invite soccer teams from Tohoku to Kanto in order to participate in a soccer tournament meant to build lasting friendships between the two regions, in addition to exposing them to an international community of children and families. The event was first held in May 2015 with four teams from Tohoku and four from Tokyo-based international schools. The success of the first event led to the building of long lasting relationships between Tohoku and Tokyo teams.

Following last year’s success, the members of Nadia were excited to run the event again with the hopes of making the event bigger and better. An important difference this year was being able to connect with residents of the local Hikarigaoka neighborhood, thanks to the work of community liaison Hiroshi Asemi. The addition of another soccer field allowed more fun and time play for all participating kids, while also opening the field to two more local Japanese soccer teams. In addition, we also had a special guest – Manuel Belleri from AC Milan soccer school – who performed as a soccer clinic coach to the delight of all participating teams.

The following teams returned to compete this year to try to reclaim the Soccer Cup from the DSTY Eagles. The returning Kanto teams were the Aoba-Japan International School (A-JIS) Junior Jaguars and DSTY Eagles. From Tohoku, Rikuzentakata’s Shishiori FC, Souma’s Ohno Sports Youth FC and Ishinomaki’s Fantasista FC returned to this year’s friendship soccer tournament. In addition to these five teams, the Tokyo West Hawks, Harunokaze Canaries FC, and Hikarigaoka Kid FC joined for the first time from Tokyo and the Nakano FC team joined from Sendai, also for the first time.

The core Nadia members of Guy Roberge, Justin Ho, Fri McWilliams, Naomi Rennie, Asumi Ota and Morgan Knight – in coordination with Greg Culos from A-JIS – formed the core committee to coordinate and execute this event to great success. Volunteers from Nadia and participating sponsor organizations kept everything running, from setup and supervision to refereeing the games.

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Day 1 Soccer Matches and Activities

The opening ceremony was filled with the spirit of friendly competition and sportsmanship. On Day 1, all teams played a total of five games with a mix of teams playing against international teams, local Japanese teams and Tohoku teams on two fields.

The matches started at 9 am and ran throughout the day, through lunch and right up until dinner. Teams that were not playing on the fields had the opportunity to attend AC Milan’s soccer clinics, play in the pool and cheer other playing teams between their own matches. A dinner BBQ capped off the day’s activities. Both the Tohoku teams and Kanto teams were exhausted from a full day of activities by the evening and went to the gymnasium where they would dorm for the night in preparation for the second day of soccer matches. A total of 130 kids stayed over at Aoba.

Throughout the day, local community volunteers from Aoba-JIS, and the local community around Hikarigaoka were gracious enough to set aside time to work alongside the corporate volunteers from our sponsor organizations. The staff of Cezar’s Kitchen provided breakfast and bentos for the first day of the matches, and helped arrange the food for the volunteer-run BBQ on Saturday evening and the finale BBQ hosted on Sunday.

Day 2 Soccer Matches and Activities

Based on the results from Day 1, the teams were ranked to play in the final tournament matches. The children woke to an early start and were practicing on the soccer pitch by 6 am. The second day of the event held a total of 11 matches among all teams to determine the final rankings and the winners of the Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup. While the matches were running throughout the day, volunteers from the sponsor organizations came together to prepare for the finale BBQ.

By 1:50 pm after the rounds of intense play, the tournament came to a close and the competing teams were brought together for the closing ceremony.

Placement awards were for:
First Place: A-JIS Junior Jaguars, awarded by Satoshi Mitsuda, CSR Committee at J.P. Morgan
Second Place: Tokyo West Hawks, awarded by Momoko Nakayama, CSR Committee at Societe Generale
Third Place: Ishinomaki Fantasista FC, awarded by Hiroshi Asemi, Hikarigaoka Community Liaison
MVP Award: Masaya Tanaka, awarded by Naomi Rennie, Nadia Organizing Team

All participating teams received a Nadia gift bag that contained a tournament T-Shirt and program, a mini soccer ball, and a laminated newsletter souvenir of the event. As it was last year, our goal was to provide a memorable event and help build long lasting friendships between all kids in a bigger and better way than the first time around, and judging from the number of smiling faces that we saw over the weekend, we hit the mark. 

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This event would not have been possible without the support of many organizations and individuals. Nadia would like to express their thanks to Ken Sell, Head of School at A-JIS, and Greg Culos, Director of AJ Extension, for working hand-in-hand with Nadia on this 2nd Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup. We would like to also express special thanks to Hiroshi Asemi for bringing in the local community and connecting us with local teams and volunteers. We would like to also say thank you to our corporate and food sponsors who provided financial and logistical support with their volunteers.