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Visits to disaster-affected areas and taiko drumming experience held as part of cultural exchange programme - International Dream Cup 2023 JAPAN

04 June 2023

Visits to disaster-affected areas and taiko drumming experience held as part of cultural exchange programme - International Dream Cup 2023 JAPAN

On Saturday 3 June, the U-16 national teams of Japan, the Netherlands, the USA and Nigeria, that are participating in the International Dream Cup 2023 JAPAN held at J-Village in Fukushima, visited the “Remains of the earthquake Namie Town Ukedo Elementary School” and “The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum” and participated in a wadaiko drumming experience as part of a cultural exchange programme of the tournament.

The programme began with a visit to Namie Town's Ukedo Elementary School, where the players witnessed the school's building, which still bears the scars of the earthquake and tsunami, as well as an exhibition showing how the evacuation process was carried out at the time. The teams then visited the Memorial Museum, where, with an English-speaking guide, they learned about the horror of the unprecedented disaster and the recovery process through more detailed displays, films and photographs.

Afterwards, the participants were taken to J-Village Arena for a taiko drumming experience. The players were surprised by the power of the drums, which resonated through their bodies, and listened with interest as the “Hirono Shoryu Daiko” team from Hirono Town, Fukushima, and the “Naraha Tenjin Daiko Ushio-kai” from Naraha Town, Fukushima, performed their respective pieces. When they were taught how to play the taiko drum, some of them beat the drum as hard as they could with smiles on their faces, making it a valuable opportunity for them to experience the unique Japanese culture.

Even though the players competed fiercely on the pitch, on this day the Japanese players, as the host country, were divided into teams' buses and actively communicated with their overseas counterparts between transfers and visits, providing a time to deepen mutual exchange.

Sunday 4 June is the final day of the tournament, with two matches left to be played - U-16 Nigeria National Team against U-16 USA National Team and U-16 Japan National Team against U-16 Netherlands National Team - to decide the final rankings.

Players' Comments

MF #22 Benjamin NAGEL (U-16 Netherlands National Team)
FW #11 Shane KLUIVERT (U-16 Netherlands National Team)
Today was a wonderful day in which I learned a lot. Seeing the primary school that was left as a legacy, we learned about the day of the earthquake and tsunami that hit this area of Fukushima and how many people suffered from it. It was painful to see in first hand, but it was a very fascinating experience to learn about an important piece of history. The experience at the museum was also excellent, as the use of video made it a realistic learning experience. The experience we had today, including the taiko performance, gave us a wonderful opportunity to get to know players from other teams off the pitch as well.

MF #6 Adyn TORRES (U-16 USA National Team)
MF #10 Santiago MORALES (U-16 USA National Team)
FW #7 Nimfasha BERCHIMAS (U-16 USA National Team)
In today's programme, we first visited a primary school that was affected by the Great East Japan earthquake. It was a wonderful learning experience for us to observe first-hand how the tsunami caused by the earthquake affected the region. It was fascinating, because these were things that we would not have known if we hadn't come here. We also learned a lot from the Memorial Museum's more in-depth exhibitions on earthquakes and tsunamis that used technology. I am also very interested in Japan's traditional culture, so it was really fun to be able to play the taiko drums. Thank you very much.

FW #8 Promise MELIGA (U-16 Nigeria National Team)
I feel very fortunate to have been able to actually visit and learn about the place where the earthquake struck on 11 March 2011. Today's programme was very informative, but it was also very sad and painful to think about the disaster that happened here. However, we are very grateful for the learning experience we were given through the visit to the primary school and the museum. It is an invaluable experience that will help us all grow as people. Along with the tournament, I would like to thank everyone who made this experience possible.

MF #8 OSADA Towa (U-16 Japan National Team)
What happened on 11 March 2011 is an event that I will never forget and should never forget, and I am very grateful for this opportunity. It was very painful to see the affected primary schools and to think of the children who were there attending classes as usual. It has been 12 years since then, and while the region is slowly returning to its old self, there are still many places that remain to be restored. I wanted to do my best to encourage people who are still suffering through football.

Tournament dates: Wed. 31 May - Sun. 4 June 2023
Participating teams: Japan/Netherlands/USA/Nigeria
Venue: [Free admission to all matches] J-Village Stadium (Fukushima)
Tournament Information

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