DREAM HOOP PROJECT: Nurturing Dreams and Aspirations in Okinawa

On January 12th, “ALL BASKETBALL ACTION DREAM HOOP PROJECT in Okinawa” sponsored by Nippon Life Insurance Company was held at Nakagusuku Junior High School in Nakagusuku Village. At the DREAM HOOP PROJECT, top athletes hold special classes and basketball clinics. The event provides an opportunity for children to think about their futures, with themes such as the importance of having dreams and mutual support with friends.

To commemorate “B.LEAGUE ALL-STAR GAME WEEKEND 2024 IN OKINAWA”, it will be held in Okinawa Prefecture in August 2023. This time, Kirin Yutaka Tamura, who served as a reporter for the project, will tell you about his day.

◆◾️Divided into three groups, dream classes and basketball clinics were also held.


Keita Imamura (Ryukyu Golden Kings), Aoi Katsura (Düsseldorf ZOOS), and Shota Horiuchi (Itami Super Phoenix) are participating in the project. When Imamura visited the school, students who heard the information gathered one after another in front of the waiting room. “As expected of the ace of the Kings!” First-year students were divided into three groups and held a dream lesson on the theme of “Me in 10 years.”

First, I attended Katsura’s class. She graduated from the prestigious Ohka Gakuen High School and is a “super elite” who won the intercollegiate championship and was named MVP in her fourth year at Waseda University. After graduating from university, she joined a general company, but in 2018, after a three-year hiatus, she returned to competition in 3×3.

In her class greeting, she mentioned the name of Natsuteru Sunagawa (Aisin Wings), who graduated from Nakagusuku Junior High School and is her junior. A professional athlete was born from the same junior high school as my students, and I was the one who played with that athlete during my university days. I think the students were able to grasp the sense of distance for the first time, showing just how great Katsura is. As I watched the students, I thought that they were showing their true selves and that they were very impressed.


Although Imamura is now one of the best players in Japan, he is not a player who experienced many of the top level nationally during his student days, such as at Nagaoka Technical High School and Niigata University of Management. However, now he is the ace who led the Ryukyu Golden Kings to their first B League championship. For the students, he is a local star, so we can see how popular Imamura is from the Ryukyu Golden Kings.

Also, through the class, I felt that he probably likes talking to people. He actively spoke to me and was very good at responding. Was he the same way he was originally, or did he change after becoming a professional basketball player and taking on the role of captain? He was very concerned.

Horiuchi started playing wheelchair basketball as a result of an injury he sustained during his university days. He was named as a designated athlete for Japan’s national team and won a gold medal at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Para Games. We are continuing our efforts towards the goal of the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games.

In Horiuchi’s class, some female students came to the front and talked about their dreams. She received applause as she vowed, “She wants to be involved in the management of the B.League.To that end, she wants to do her best in basketball.” Horiuchi was really funny, and while she was the funniest of the three, she also mentioned the names of the shows I appeared on, which made things really easy. Her choice of words was good and persuasive, and the students listened intently.


After completing the dream class, the next step was the clinic attended by the men’s and women’s basketball teams and those who wished to participate. The three athletes mainly taught the basics, such as warming up in pairs and dribbling to see how fast they can compete. The most exciting part was the shooting competition between men and women. In a mini-game where the faster the player to score a set number of points wins, the handicapped women’s team defeats the men’s team. The losing men’s team had a penalty game of running three round trips around the gymnasium. Imamura, Horiuchi, and for some reason even me… Even though he was 44 years old, he was doing his best. Although it was a short time, it must have been a valuable moment for the students who participated.

◆◾️Message to the children after completing the project

We will also introduce the voices of athletes, students (participating only in clinics), and teachers who have completed all projects.

“It was great to see the students share their dreams with each other through the dream class.Some students not only wanted to become basketball players, but also had jobs related to basketball.The Ryukyu Golden Kings and Okinawa Arena were also an influence. So, I guess you can imagine a job related to basketball in Okinawa.I believe that your dreams and the future you envision are nothing more than the accumulation of daily activities.While searching for what you like and what you can do your best at, I want you to keep improving what you’re good at, and I think that will lead to your dreams.” (Katsura)

“(This kind of opportunity) was very refreshing. I think it’s great that so many kids have dreams.I myself was unknown as a student and didn’t have a career, but I became a professional basketball player. .However, I want to show that regardless of your career, you can reach your dreams and goals depending on the approach you take in the environment you are in.I will continue to do my best so that I can have a positive influence and give dreams and hopes to others through my play. I’m going” (Imamura)

“This was my first time participating in a project like this.I used to be a passive person.I want these children to have an opportunity to pursue their dreams.(The children) I want them to expand their world as much as possible, take on various challenges, and work hard to make their dreams come true.” (Horiuchi)


“I was very nervous, but all the players were very kind and taught me in a friendly manner, so I had fun playing. (My dream) is to work at a TV station. I really enjoy watching TV with my family and friends. I think it’s great to be able to be involved in work that makes people smile.” (Kasuzu Tamashiro, second year student)

“It was a very valuable experience to be able to interact with everyone. (My dream) is to become a wedding planner. I really like the atmosphere of weddings, and I want to be involved in it and make people happy. I want to.” (2nd year student, Higa Juzu)

“I had fun playing today. Imamura is my favorite player on the Ryukyu Golden Kings, so I was very happy that he came to school.” (Second-year student, Iki Uezu)

“I was confident (in the round-trip dash), but I was surprised at how fast Imamura was. Imamura was kind to everyone and had a laugh.” (Yusuke Itokazu, 2nd year student)

“Today, the students’ eyes were shining brightly.It was a meaningful lecture for the students as they were able to hear wonderful stories from top athletes.The students who participated in the clinic were able to get a feel for the atmosphere. But I think it was a valuable experience.As a teacher, I want to create an environment where children can make their dreams come true.(Mr. Tadashi Miyazato, 1st grade head)

“Schools can only do so much on their own, but with the cooperation of Nippon Life, we had top athletes come. Seeing the children happy made me very happy to be able to carry out this project.” Since I am the vice principal, my future goal is to create an environment where the staff can work more comfortably.” (Vice Principal Fumito Naha)

Throughout the day, I received strength from the children. I was treated to the excitement of being a top athlete, so it was fun for me to feel like a superstar (lol). I love children, so I wanted to be able to interact with them and be a meaningful moment in their lives. There’s not much I can do, but I wanted to tell the children what I could.


When you are a child, meeting people you are not familiar with leaves a lasting impression on you. Even if the children I met in today’s project are not involved in basketball, I’m sure they want to become top athletes in some field. I think it’s a great source of inspiration, so if I could, I’d like to go all over the country with this group. I hope that the children who come into contact with top athletes will have good energy and pass this on to children of their own generation, and that this will spread.

I’ve been through a difficult life, and the only thing that kept me going was having a dream, or rather, I lived my life thinking, “Someday, I’m going to change this situation.” I want young children to try various things, gain various experiences, and spend their lives experiencing failures and successes.


Interview = Kirin, Yutaka Tamura
Composition = Shin Sakai

2024-01-13 04:34:33
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