Japanese and Brooklyn youth unite through baseball
by Andrew Shilling
Jul 30, 2014 | 10246 views | 0 0 comments | 273 273 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It was a celebration of life and new beginnings last week as more than 70 children and coaches flew in from Japan for the inaugural weeklong Brooklyn-Japan Baseball Exchange Program.

The matchup, officially dubbed “Japan’s Tsunami Kids and Brooklyn’s Hurricane Sandy Kids Play Ball,” was started in an effort to build a connection over the recent natural disasters.

From July 23-27, kids from Japan and Brooklyn squared off at the LIU Brooklyn and at MCU Park in Coney Island.

Dr. Kimberly Cline, president of Long Island University, welcomed the team from Japan last week on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall.

“We wanted to give students an opportunity in both counties to be able to come together and show their strength on the field,” Cline said. “We’re going to make sure we cheer for both sides today, and we hope they end up in a tie. This is something we need to encourage more.”

Along with the help of LIU, the program was also made possible by the Uniworld Group and Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame member Kenichi Yazawa.

“We are really looking forward to spending time here in Brooklyn and annunciating a cultural understanding of our students and students here in Brooklyn,” Yazawa said. “We’re also hoping this experience can develop some common ground, and through the shared experience of tragedy we can be closer as human beings.”

After their week in Brooklyn, the team traveled to San Diego and Los Angeles to continue the cultural exchange outreach.

“We’re quite excited,” he added.

Borough President Eric Adams welcomed the team last week in hopes that the outreach would help bring together a cultural understanding through the game.

“This a great opportunity for cross-international communication between our young people here in Brooklyn and in Japan,” Adams said. “Their desires, commitment and hopes are the same.”

Just before kicking off their weeklong tour of the city’s museums, historic sites and beaches, Adams wished the team best of luck in the tournament.

“Our young people went through a traumatic experience,” he said. “People in Japan went though the tsunami and the children here went through the experience of Sandy, but they came through intact and they came through with their spirits moving forward.

“Today we are using baseball for how it has been for so many years,” he added. “The real ambassador, not only for sports but for how we cross-pollinate ideas, cultures and our experiences.”
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