From Africa to Koshien: A High School Baseball Coach’s Journey to Global Recognition

From Africa to Koshien: A High School Baseball Coach’s Journey to Global Recognition

This summer, Okayama Sanyo High School defeated Nihon University Yamagata and Ogaki Nihon University and Koshien regular schools, and was one step away from the goal of “three wins at Koshien”.
The team will be led by Naohiko Tsutsumi, who has a unique career and also served as the head coach of the African Zimbabwe national team in 2019.This is an excerpt from his book, “From Africa to the World, and then to Koshien: A Nonstandard High School Baseball Coach Aims for Global Popularity” (Tokyo News Service, July 2023, published by Kodansha). 1st of all 4 times/Continue to #2, #3, #4) He is also the manager of the Zimbabwe national team while also being a high school baseball manager.

May 2019. I was standing on a baseball field bench wearing a uniform consisting of a bright red jacket and white pants. English is spoken on the ground and on the benches. Readers who are familiar with high school baseball may have felt a little uncomfortable. In high school baseball, “two-tone colors,” in which the top and bottom of the uniform are different colors, are prohibited. Furthermore, the language spoken during play is not Japanese, but English. That’s right, I wasn’t in the official spring high school baseball game that was scheduled to be held in 2020 as the manager of the national team of the Republic of Zimbabwe in Africa, which is about 13,000 kilometers away from Japan. Due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection, it was postponed in 2021.) He was fighting in the African qualifying for the final round of the Tokyo Olympics.

The TV crew kept a close eye on the details of how I was appointed as the representative director and the pattern of the training camp just before, and after the qualifying rounds, the TV Tokyo program “Tsuisei LIVE!” A special feature was organized in SPORTS Watcher. I hear that there was a certain reaction to the broadcast because it was probably an unprecedented challenge for a high school baseball coach to wear a pair of straw hats with a coach of a national team from another country. As I will describe in detail in each chapter of this book, the biggest reason why I was appointed as the coach of the Zimbabwe national team was to “let many people know about the landscape of baseball in a country that is underdeveloped.”

Baseball is a “minor sport”

It is no exaggeration to say that baseball has long been the “largest major sport in the country” in Japan. After graduating from university, as a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers, I was involved in baseball promotion activities in Zimbabwe from 1995, but in Zimbabwe, baseball was, frankly, a minor sport.

The most popular sports in Zimbabwe are rugby, cricket and soccer. As for the reason why soccer has become so popular, there are people who say, “It can be done with just one ball and a square,” but the reality is a little different when you look at history.

As a high school social studies teacher, I can say that the reason soccer has become so popular is because England has many colonies, and soccer, a sport that originated in England, took root in those colonies. On the other hand, what about baseball, which is said to have originated in Cooperstown, New York, USA? Unlike England, the United States had only a few colonies, so it was not possible to expand the playing population in the same way as soccer. In addition, there is also the fact that the sport originated in the United States, which has a history of independence from Europe, and the fact that it has been neglected in other European countries may also be involved.

[Next page]Activities as JICA volunteers and company employees to “spread baseball around the world”

2023-08-16 21:32:55
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