Nara JETNet 8th Event
International Sports Day
On November 15, 2003, The Nara JETNet Liaison Council (JETNet) held its eighth international event, an International Sports Day, at Ando Junior High School.
The International Sports involved a total of 52 elementary and middle school students. 25 JETs from six countries introduced sports and games from their home countries and interacted with the children in small groups. The attendance of three Judo experts from Tunisia also allowed the children to learn about the popularity of Japanese sports in other countries.
The children were quite excited to get started, as participants started filing in half an hour before registration was scheduled to start. At 10.30am, the event began with a brief introductory speech and explanation of the day’s events. The special guests from Tunisia gave a well thought out presentation in French about their country, followed by a judo demonstration that drew applause from the crowd. Afterwards, everyone participated in a special radio exercise warm-up provided by Step-up Taiso.
The participants were then quickly split into four teams for the start of the day’s first sporting event: Doctor dodge ball, a game in which two teams face off against each other and try to eliminate the opposing team’s doctor. The game started off mildly, but as more balls were added order quickly broke down into chaos. As dodge balls flew around the room participants began to laugh and bond together as a group. Unfortunately, time was called and everyone took a lunch break before they were quite finished.
Lunch was followed by two more country presentations: a brief yoga demonstration by the American group and a presentation on cricket and a quick bush dance lesson by the Australian group. Although some of the young male participants were a little reluctant to “dance with a girl” at first, they soon found themselves romping and twirling around the room like everyone else.
With everyone’s blood pumping from the workout, the main event commenced: a five sport semi-competitive medley. Of the five events, only two were familiar to all the participants: soccer and volleyball. This was one of the day’s strong points, as not only the children but the JETs as well were exposed to sports they had never before experienced. Ultimate Frisbee, a sport popular among young adults in Canada and the USA and Kick the can, a game popular at summer camps into the USA, were two that were particularly interesting for JETs as well. There were also several interesting relay races, much different than those often done at Japanese school sporting events.
While the JETNet officials tallied up each team’s score in an attempt to determine the winner, the UK group gave its presentation on sports in Britain by presenting a game called “British Bulldogs Charge!” In this game, everyone runs from one side of the gymnasium to the other, trying not to get tagged by the few people standing in the middle. Anyone who gets tagged has to join those in the center and try to tag the remaining people as they run back across the gymnasium again. Everyone loved this game not only because it was fun, but also because the UK group had made David Beckham masks for people to wear while playing!
With the day’s events finished and everyone exhausted from running around all day, surveys were passed out and the winner of the afternoon competition was announced. Three teams tied for first place, and each of them walked out with a small prize. Surveys showed that the event was a rousing success. No one sport was unpopular with either the JETs or the participants, as each sport received at least 12% of the vote among each group. More importantly, however, nearly 90% of the children said that they got along well with their team leader and with the sports leaders, as well as enjoying the country presentations. In other words, in addition to being able to interact with people of different cultures the participants also learned a lot as well. All in all, the Sports Day was quite a success, and the JETNet team would like to thank everyone who participated.