Tokyo, May 23-24, 2015
Nadia NPO is actively supporting many projects for children affected by the March 11, 2011 disaster in Tohoku. Since 2013, Nadia has delivered over 15 new “Playgrounds of Hope” to disaster-stricken areas in Tohoku, in addition to sending children affected by Fukushima disaster to summer homestays in Italy. Last September, Nadia supported the delivery of a new community center/soccer club house in Rikuzentakata in coordination with Hisashi Kato, a J-League team general manager and former Japanese National Team captain who has been active in rebuilding projects in the Tohoku area.
The Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup is the result of a collaborative proposal to invite soccer teams from the disaster-stricken Tohoku area to the Kanto area to participate in a soccer tournament to build lasting friendships between Tohoku and Kanto, in addition to exposing them to an international community of children and families in the much in the same way the global community has rallied together in support of the Tohoku region since 2011.
The members of Nadia began by scouting for a venue to host this event at a variety of locations including soccer stadiums, public and private fields and international schools, to gauge interest and the feasibility of this event. Through the scouting process Nadia was met with the unparalleled enthusiasm from sports director Greg Culos of Aoba-Japan International School (A-JIS) to host this event. The initial kickoff meeting for this project was held at the Hikarigaoka campus of A-JIS on February 2nd, 2015, with the ambitious target to secure the commitment of a total of 8 soccer teams (4 from the Kanto area and 4 from Tohoku area), secure funding from sponsors, and coordinate the logistics of transportation, lodging, tournament schedule, volunteers and food preparation for this event within the span of less than 4 months.
Through the coordination of Greg Culos and Hisashi Kato, the Kanto teams of the A-JIS Junior Tigers, Tiny Titans, DSTY Eagles and the Yokohama International School Dragons and the Tohoku teams of Aizu/Koriyama Santos, Shishiori FC, Ohno Sports Youth FC and Ishinomaki Fantasista FC were invited to the friendship soccer tournament.
For top left to bottom right: Aizu/Koriyama Santos, Yokohama International School Dragons, Ohno Sports Youth FC, Ishinomaki Fantasista FC, A-JIS Junior Tigers, Tiny Titans, DSTY Eagles and Shishiori FC
The core Nadia members of Guy Roberge, Justin Ho, Fri McWilliams, Naomi Rennie and Morgan Knight in coordination with Greg Culos formed the core committee to coordinate and execute this event to great success. Operation of the event was coordinated by volunteers from Nadia and the participating sponsor organizations to help with setup, supervision, food preparation and refereeing of the games.
Arrival of the Tohoku Teams
The Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup was hosted on the weekend of May 23rd and 24th with the Tohoku teams arriving on the evening of Friday, May 22nd to dorm at the gymnasium of A-JIS. Many of the children from Tohoku were in Tokyo for the first time. The Tohoku kids were so excited after their arrival to dorm at A-JIS, they were found to have woken up to an energetic sunny start of the day by 6:00 am (much to the dismay of the supporting Tohoku coaches staying with the children overnight, who were hoping for some extra sleep).
Day 1 Soccer Matches and Activities
The Tokyo teams and volunteers arrived on the morning of May 23rd when meetings for the coaches and volunteers were held. The opening ceremony hosted by Greg and Guy set the outline and tone of the event to be one of friendly competition and sportsmanship. For Day 1 teams were divided into 2 round robins of 4 teams (2 from Tohoku and 2 from Kanto), with each team playing 3 games. Prior meetings with coaches indicated that maximizing game time for the teams would offer the most enjoyment for the players, and a tournament schedule of 45-minute team rotations (2 x 20 minutes) was created.
Round robin games commenced at 9am and ran throughout the day, through lunch and right up until dinner. Teams that were not playing on the fields had the opportunity to watch and learn from the different play styles on show between the different teams and the resulting matches. The event venue also offered a basketball court, available space in the gymnasium and the school pool for additional activities for the participants to enjoy themselves.
The events continued well into late in the afternoon with the soccer teams being taken to the local sento to bathe after their final matches. A dinner BBQ was hosted by the volunteers consisting of hotdogs, hamburgers, salad and grilled vegetables.
Both the Tohoku teams and Kanto teams were exhausted from a full day of activities by the evening and retired to the gymnasium where they would dorm for the night in preparation for the 2nd day of soccer matches.
Throughout the day, student volunteers of A-JIS were gracious enough to set aside time to work alongside with the adults while also volunteering to handle tweeting and providing live video streams of the event online. The staff of Caezar’s Kitchen were gracious to donate their time and provide breakfast and bentos for the first day of the matches, while also assisting with the procurement of vegetables for the volunteer-run BBQ on Saturday evening and the finale BBQ hosted on Sunday . The French Chef community, including Pachon and Amicale des Cuisiniers et Patissiers Français au Japon kindly donated a swath of high quality prepared meats, cheese, bread and wine for the event closing BBQ.
Day 2 Soccer Matches and Activities
The schedule of the second day was left open, depending on the results of the first day. In the spirit of friendship and sportsmanship, the organizing committee felt that it would be best for the coaches to be involved with establishing the tournament schedule for the second day, to allow their teams to have the most enjoyable and competitive matches.
The coaches were so excited by the enthusiasm of their teams displayed during the matches of the first day, so the original game schedule for Sunday was extended to start earlier from 8 am and last till 1:30 pm – right before the scheduled departure times of the Tohoku teams – to maximize play time.
Like Saturday, the children woke to an early start and were practicing on the soccer pitch by 7 am and the staff of Caesar’s Kitchen had breakfast for kids ready by 7:30 am to have the teams ready for their matches by 8 am. The 2nd day of the event had a total of 8 matches among all teams, to determine the final rankings and the winners of the Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup.
With the games running throughout the day, the volunteers from the sponsor organizations came together to prepare for the finale BBQ with a variety of fine meats, cheese, bread and dessert graciously donated by the community of L’Amicale des Cuisiniers et Patissiers Français au Japon.
BBQ on Sunday featured donated French products to the delight of all kids and participants
By 1:30 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: DSTY Eagles, awarded by Mr. Joji Hiratsuka, Chairman of Nadia NPO
- Second Place: A-JIS Junior Jaguars, awarded by Mr. Ron Choi, CSR Committee at J.P. Morgan
- Third Place: Ishinomaki Fantasista FC, awarded by Mr. Guillaume Burtschell, Chief Country Officer of Societe Generale in Japan
- Friendship Award: Shishiori FC, awarded by Jean-Pierre Biard, CSR Committee at BNP Paribas
All participating teams received a Nadia gift bag containing:
- A Friendly Cup T-Shirt and Program
- A soft mini soccer ball from Kato-san’s J-League team
- A laminated newsletter souvenir of the event
In addition, the Tohoku teams received a gift of French salt from the Isle of Rhé donated by Omnisens.
It’s all about Friendship
Whether it is on the field or in other activities held throughout the weekend, our goal was to provide a memorable event and long lasting friendships between all kids. On that aspect, we can say our mission was accomplished.
May the friendships developed over a memorable weekend last a lifetime!
The Sponsors’ Cup
After the departure of the Tohoku and Kanto kids in the early afternoon and the completion of cleanup activities, time was set aside for sponsors to square off in a friendly, but fiercely fought, Sponsors’ Cup.
By 5:30 pm, after 4 intense round robin games played by each of the 4 corporate sponsors teams and a team of Tohoku coaches and kids from A-JIS involved in the event, the top 2 teams were selected to play in the Sponsors’ Cup Final.
Congratulations to the winners!
- First Place: “The Coaches Team”
- Second Place: Societe Generale Team #2
For top left to bottom right: SG-1, SG-2, Coaches Team, DBG, JPM
A word of thanks
This event would not have been possible without the support of many organizations and individuals. Nadia would like to express their thanks to A-JIS Ken Sell, Head of School, and Greg Culos, Director of AJ Extension, for working hand-in-hand with Nadia on this 1st Nadia International Soccer Friendly Cup. We would like to also say thank you to our corporate sponsors who provided financial and logistical support with their volunteers. Finally, we would like to express our sincere appreciation to our food sponsors for the delicious food and support provided throughout the tournament.