U-22 Japan National Team offer flowers and origami cranes to Cenotaph for the A-bomb Victims at Peace Memorial Park – “BLUE PEACE DAYS” Project
14 November 2019
Ahead of their match against the U-22 Colombia National Team at the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019, the U-22 Japan National Team have been holding a training camp in Hiroshima. On Wednesday 13 November, the team paid a visit to Peace Memorial Park, where Acting Coach YOKOUCHI Akinobu and team captain NAKAYAMA Yuta offered flowers to the Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims. As part of the “BLUE PEACE DAYS” Project that wishes for the world peace, the players also presented origami cranes that were sent from the fans and supporters nationwide.
The first national match by U-22 Japan National Team will be held in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two cities in the world affected by the atomic bomb. After offering flowers and origami cranes to the cenotaph, the team visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where they listened to the story told by Mr. YAMAMOTO Sadao, an atomic bomb survivor. Born in 1931, Mr. YAMAMOTO was in second grade of junior high school when the atomic bomb was dropped. For nearly an hour, the players listened closely to his story described the scenes following the tragedy and the horror of war.
After hearing the stories, Captain NAKAYAMA mentioned, “A story beyond our imaginations. We might be taking for granted of the peace we have, especially knowing that there are countries and regions in this world where they are at war. Through football, we hope to spread the importance of world peace.” KO Takahiro also commented, “We must think of the reason why we are playing this match in Hiroshima and spread the message to give everyone the opportunity to think about world peace.” For many of the players, this was their first time hearing these stories in real life, and it gave them the opportunity to re-acknowledge their role as athletes and as members of the Olympics generation, as OGAWA Koki stated, “This was a precious time for us. It really made me want to improve a sense of humanity.”
Coach and Players' Comments
YOKOUCHI Akinobu, Acting Coach
By hearing the stories from the atomic bomb survivor, it really gave us the opportunity to rethink about our daily lives and what we can do to protect the peace we have right now. This was a rare experience for the players, and this will certainly give them time to think about the reasons why our matches are being held at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We are grateful that we are able to play sports because it can only be played under a peaceful society. Through sports, we hope to spread the message of world peace.
MF MIYOSHI Koji (Royal Antwerp FC)
This was my first time hearing these stories, and it gave me the opportunity to realise again how the current state of Japan was built on many histories. It also made me more thankful of our daily lives where we live comfortably. Sport is a symbol of peace and we can only play football because we have peace. That is why we hope to play a match that embodies our peace and give back to the people who have created this peace by showcasing a performance that touches people’s hearts.
“BLUE PEACE DAYS sending a peaceful pass to the world and the future, from HIROSHIMA・NAGASAKI” Project
Japan Football Association will be hosting the “BLUE PEACE DAYS sending a peaceful pass to the world, to the future, from HIROSHIMA・NAGASAKI” Project, during the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 matches played by the U-22 Japan National Team at EDION Stadium Hiroshima on Sunday 17 November and at Transcosmos Stadium Nagasaki on Saturday 28 December.
The Olympic Games is the world’s greatest sports festival, and the event is built on the principle to promote human development and world peace. The U-22 Japan National Team have been building their team ahead of the Summer Olympics hosted in Tokyo, and for the first time since launching the team, they will be playing their match in Japan. With their matches scheduled to take place at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the only two cities in the world affected by the atomic bomb, this project was launched to provide an opportunity to rethink about the power of sports, what sports can do to the society, and the meaning of enjoying sports.
U-22 Japan National Team vs U-22 Colombia National Team
Match Date: Sun. 17 November 2019 12:50
Match Venue: EDION Stadium Hiroshima, Hiroshima
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