WE ACTION DAY Hiroshima to Host a Talk Show on Women's Health Issues and Promotion of Women's Activities

The ninth of the 2022-23 Yogibo WE LEAGUE, which marks the beginning of the second half of the season. Sanfrecce Hiroshima Regina held a WE ACTION DAY event at three different venues in Hiroshima Prefecture: "Sanfrecce Hiroshima Regina x Hiroshima Greater Urban Area Football Session" on March 5th and "Femtech Japan/Femcare Japan in HIROSHIMA 2023 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Talk Show" and a visit to an elementary school on March 6th.

Difficulty in Maintaining Your Condition as a Female Athlete

The "Femtech Japan/Femcare Japan in HIROSHIMA 2023 Sanfrecce Hiroshima Talk Show" was held at the Civic Hall in Yume Town Hatsukaichi on the theme of health issues specific to women and the promotion of women's activities from the perspective of athletes. The event was attended by a wide range of people, including Sanfrecce Hiroshima Regina fans and supporters, people interested in women's health, couples, parents and children as well as high school students.

The stage was decorated with mimosa flowers in honor of International Women's Day on March 8th, where Sanfrecce Hiroshima Regina players Kaede Nakamura, Yo Tachibana, and Chise Takizawa, along with Sanfrecce Hiroshima Ambassador Koji Morisaki, were welcomed with a warm applause when they appeared.

Femtech, the theme of this event, is the concept of using technology to solve women's specific health issues. Although it is gradually gaining recognition these days, unfortunately not many people know about it yet. In fact, only about 10% of the approximately 30 people who attended the event raised their hands and said they were familiar with this term. Despite the difficult and sensitive subject matter, MC Tomoko Kakemoto explained it in detail, mixing in a few laughs as she proceeded with the event. As a result, the talk show was able to create a friendly atmosphere.

On the topic of "menstruation/period," Nakamura revealed the difficulty in controlling her appetite and weight, swelling, sluggishness, and other difficulties in maintaining her condition. Takizawa introduced an overseas case study, saying that there is data showing that the risk of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee is highest four days before menstruation. In fact, many athletes around Takizawa have suffered anterior cruciate ligament injuries before their menstruation.

Mr. Morisaki also commented, "Men need to be more aware of this. I think it is important for male coaches, including Regina coach Shin Nakamura, to be aware of the menstrual cycles and conditions of their athletes. It was a good learning experience,” as he shared some of his feelings. Some of the participants were seen taking notes as they closely listened to the talk show and discussions.

Two WE LEAGUE players have returned to the field after giving birth. When asked about the current situation, Tachibana, who has played in the U.S., said, "Half of the U.S. national team players are mothers. It is great that there is a supportive environment for players who have given birth to be able to return to the game.” Nakamura also expressed her hopes that “if such an environment is created in the WE LEAGUE, there will be more hopes and opportunities for children who want to become a WE LEAGUER.”

The event concluded with a Q&A session. "What do you pay attention to when it comes to food?" What is the seating order on buses and bullet trains? The players answered these questions with smiles on their faces.

Creating a Society in which Both Men and Women Can Live Freely by Communicating About Taboo Subjects

The event was a rich and rewarding one as the event went overtime – with participants enjoying the interactions with the fans. After the event, all the speakers and participants alike commented that their “perception changed” and that they were “glad they attended.”

Sakura Onari and Akira Ota from Shintoku Girls' High School, who were exhibiting and presenting on the issue of “menstrual poverty" at the same venue, also participated in the talk show and listened intently. Ms. Ota said, "Since we are an all-girls school, we can talk about menstruation relatively openly, but I have heard from my co-ed school friends that it is still difficult to talk about it. I sometimes wonder how we can help people not to take menstruation so seriously and see it as a normal part of their lives.”

Masanari and Toshie Muramoto participated as a couple. The husband, Masanari, said, "As a man, I knew nothing about it. Hearing the details, I was able to see anew how hard it is for female athletes, and it broadened my perspective." His wife Toshie, expressed her deepened interest, saying, "I'm glad we came together as a couple.”

Mr. Morisaki, who also serves as Hiroshima Prefecture's ambassador for the promotion of "ikumen (active childrearing father)" said, "I think it is difficult for men to ask about the problems that are unique to women, and it must be difficult for women to express their concerns as well. At first I thought it might be better if I were not present at this event as a man, but this is not just an issue of women; men must also be aware of it and share it with others.”

Tachibana said, "At first, I was not comfortable talking about these issues in public. But the event gave me a good opportunity to talk with my friends. I re-learned that this is an issue that many women face, and that made me wonder why I had not talked about it before. I am glad that men also listened in, and I am glad that everyone who attended said that their perceptions had changed. If I could help create a society in which women can live comfortably just by me relaying my message, I would be more than happy.”

Women should not be left alone to deal with the various issues and concerns they face, but rather should communicate and share their struggles and worries with others. By doing so, it will lead to a society that is easier to live in – not only for women, but also for men as well. This was a meaningful activity that deepened our understanding on these issues.