On October 23rd – for the first WE ACTION DAY of the season, Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara held a Nojima Sports Festival. About 100 elementary school children participated in the event, and enjoyed a multi-sport competitions together – regardless of grade, gender, or disability.
The purpose of the festival was to foster communication and consideration for others, regardless of their backgrounds. Find out more about the event that took place under the beautiful autumn weather in the report below.
The event committee members included four players: Ami Sugita, Mako Kudo, Ami Dekimura, and Sakura Nojima (Dekimura and Nojima also served as the event MC).
Elementary school children from the general public and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities were invited to the event, creating an opportunity for everyone to interact with each other through sports.
In addition to all the Nojima Stella Kanagawa Sagamihara players, alumni of the Yokohama DeNA Baystars professional baseball team, Nojima Sagamihara Rise American football team players, and cheerleaders participated in the event. They came to the event because of their connection to the sports teams supported by Nojima Corporation, which are also based in Kanagawa Prefecture.
In the first half of the event, the children were divided into sections for football, baseball, and American football – with the athletes acting as coaches. All the children had an opportunity to experience all three sports. The children were so focused in kicking targets, practicing batting and throwing the American football.
For many of the children, it was their first time trying some of the sports and as they struggled, the players gently supported them while the children enthusiastically listened.
In the second half of the event, the participants played walking football, which was a mix of different sports. The group was divided into 12, and despite the differences in physique with the big American football players from overseas to small elementary school children, they all had to walk and go after the ball. Needless to say, the competition got quite heated.
At the center of the pitch, Tsun-san from "Smile for Nippon Chomage-tai" acted as the MC and made the game even more exciting. Tsu-san, would call out through the mic “the team that has the most fun and excitement wins!” or “nice play” and “let’s get loud” to bring the excitement from the crowd as well.
After a full fun active two hours, the children showed some toughness on their faces in comparison to the beginning of the event. There were also many moments where the participants built a friendship despite meeting for the first time.
One of the participants, Yuria Suzuki said, "I was nervous to try different sports, but the players were kind, and I was able to enjoy playing as a team. I am now interested in playing football myself," with a smile on her face.
Ren Yoshida of Nojima Sagamihara Rise said, "I was very happy because I did not have a chance to meet the fans due to the pandemic. I think the kids had fun this time, but we had fun too. I would like to contribute more to the society as the Nojima Group (with Stella, who practices on the same field)," reflecting on the event with a smile.
Last, but not least, a member of the event organizer, Dekimura commented, "I was excited to create an opportunity for people to get to know multiple sports. It would really be great if more children start to support Stella or take up other sports through this event.”
At this event, we were able to have a lot of interactions and exchanges through mixing and matching everything – regardless of age, gender, disability, or sport. It was a valuable opportunity to learn the importance of having a "multifaceted perspective" and the joy of making many friends through sports.