On October 29th(Sat), we visited Soma City, to hold the basketball clinic for kids in devastated area. Soma City, as you may know, locates near the Pacific Ocean that was hit not only by huge Tsunami, but also has been affected by Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants within about 30 miles.
With the cooperation of local basketball association in Fukushima, 50 kids from elementary to high school joined our charity clinic.
To start off the day, we shared the message of ABA CEO to encourage kids to overcome this challenge.
In the clinic we focused on how to improve their basketball skills and understanding of tactics, as well as sharing our thoughts that wisdom they learn on the basketball court can be applied to the life off the court.
Since March 11th, they have not had a lot of opportunities to play sports because buildings and grounds are still recovering from disaster, and they also are not so welcomed to play outside due to possible radiation.
Even though the area they have been living are outside of evacuated districts, kids are enforced to stay in the houses. So, in our clinic, they were running around and chasing the ball with joys and smiles.
We really felt appreciation and received encouragement by their energies.
After the clinic, we had a chance to sit down with one of elementary school teacher who supported this event.
"Many of children who are here today were living in the school district which were less than 15 miles away from Fukushima Nuke Power Plants. Right now, they fortunately go to different schools but yet, they only have 1 or 2 times to play sports in a week.(since playing outside is currently banned.) So, the opportunity like this, playing basketball, one of their favorite sports, simply makes them happy and joyful."
"However, we are all not sure how long this situation would last. It's not just about school, but family whose house was swept away by Tsunami, people surrounded and others, pretty much everyone over here does not know when the better day would come. TV news is not capturing the reality here, but we also react to the news, even which is different from what we see in the reality, we have to collect right information from right sources by ourselves."
"Even though we capture the fact, there is no way to escape, or even we could escape, we would not be able to find jobs.Nowadays, girls from elementary to high school are even raising their voices that they may not be able to give births in the future."
When we left the gym, we drove around the city and found houses only with base, a bus floating on the water and nothing but flat land......
Seeing these, we lost a word.
But a great thing, very positive thing we found in Soma was the people who are trying to take a step (it may be a small one) to reconstruct the city. And we could meet kids who love to play their favorite sport, basketball!
We know we are not capable enough to contribute lots of ways, but we at least can play basketball and have a great time with them.
When we closed the clinic, one of kids in the gym came to us and said,
"It was a lot of fun to play with you all. Please come see us again!"
We made promise to come back here again after this season and determined to continuously support kids in Soma.
One last favor we would like to ask you would be please cheer for the kids in this area and other devastated areas in Japan. They are still struggling and there will be long way to go, but they have not lost hope or courage yet.