On March 26, INAC Kobe Leonessa hosted a crime prevention sports class and football clinic at the Mitsui Outlet Park Marine Pia Kobe in Tarumi Ward of Kobe City. Additionally, a photo exhibition on the Great Hanshin Earthquake was also held by INAC Kobe’s partner, Kobe Shimbun.
INAC Kobe hosted the crime prevention sports class with the football players, intending to make Kobe a safe city for children to live in. The crime prevention sports class was a hands-on crime prevention class,in which participants learned how to run away from suspicious people and how to handle being grabbed (self-defense techniques) through a combination of sports activities. Although the weather was not ideal on the day of the event, 65 children from nursery, kindergarten as well as elementary schools and their guardians, gathered for the event.
The morning session was for preschoolers and the younger children of elementary, combined with 12 players – including the forward Mina Tanaka, who competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games, and a German goalkeeper, Stina Johannes, who just joined the team in March. As a start, 14 preschoolers experienced both self-defense and football.
In the self-defense class, the players were assigned as the suspicious person. When a player grabbed the children's arms, the children used self-defense techniques they had just learned to shake them off as the goalkeeper, Ayaka Yamashita, said, "Yes, yes!” and gestured a thumbs up. At the football clinic, everyone chased the ball hard despite the rain fall.
The second event of the morning, attended by 27 first and second graders, was held indoors due to the heavier rainfall. The prevention class was based on football training and some of the children showed agility that even impressed the players. The game of touching the color cones on cue, included a challenge against Shiori Miyake, a defender who has experienced playing for the Japan national team. At the beginning, the children were all smiles, but by the end of the session had very serious facial expressions.
By the afternoon, the rain had stopped so 24 children between 3rd and 6th grade gathered outside. The children applauded the 12 players that included defender, Akari Takeshige and midfielder, Miki Ito, as they replaced the previous players.
The crime prevention classes shifted as the students became older, for example learning self-defense techniques that uses the "leverage principle.” At the football clinic, the players and children's teams played against each other. The game got heated and while forward player, Mai Kyokawa put on an amazing dribbling show, the children also took powerful shots, causing the goalkeeper, Hinata Ide and midfielder Haruna Aikawa to scream by surprise.
Akari Takeshige, who was the facilitator for this event, was involved from the planning stage of the event so she "came up with a plan that the children can enjoy.” Defender, Riko Ushijima, who attended the development meeting for the code of conduct "WE LEAGUE CREDO,” expressed her aspirations for the future: "I became a professional women's football player, so I want to make this an opportunity where people will be aspired and look up to us.”
Each session ended with a rock-paper-scissors competition for a signed game ball, which created a lot of excitement. The winner of the preschoolers' event was a 5-year-old girl who thrillingly said, "I will use this ball to play with my family.” Tomoshige Yamaguchi, a father of a 9-year-old girl who is learning football, commented "It was a valuable experience to be able to play with professional players.”
Takashi Yasumoto, President of INAC Kobe Leonessa, stated that the company will continue to regularly conduct activities to promote the WE LEAGUE philosophy, and in April will open a "football class for women" for those in junior high school and above.
In addition, this year marks the 27th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake that occurred in 1995. At the indoor venue, the Kobe Shimbun exhibited about 350 photos documenting the time of the earthquake and the recovery efforts – which the parents and children who attended the event, also spent time looking at.