Japanese students are set to join a scrimmage against local players today at the Oleai Sports Complex Field.
The scrimmage is part of the visitors’ cultural exchange and leadership program on Saipan, according to Ehime University Leaders School chief instructor Keiji Hata, through interpreter Yoko Tsumagari, an assistant professor at the same university, in an interview with Saipan Tribune yesterday.
Hata brought to Saipan 56 students (in the 18 to 20 age group) from different universities in Japan and 12 professors and several of them will be testing their soccer skills against local talents in a scrimmage set for 7:30pm.
“We have about 15 students on the group who also play soccer. It will be a great experience for them to play and interact with local players,” Hata said.
Before the scrimmage, Akira Yamanaka, who is also from Ehime University, will conduct a clinic at 6pm. It is Yamanaka’s third visit to Saipan. In 2011, the Level 4 coach through Japan Football Association held a two-week goalie clinic for the CNMI U15 National Team that competed in the 2011 East Asian Football Federation U15 Youth Tournament in Taipei and gave the Commonwealth its historic first win (2-1 versus Macau). Then early this year, Yamanaka returned to Saipan with his family and briefly conducted another clinic for U12 players.
“It is an honor to share what I know to CNMI players. I hope we will not only have clinics and scrimmages, but also more cultural exchange between students from Japan and Saipan. We wish to strengthen our relationship with the CNMI and come here as often as we can,” Yamanaka said through Tsumagari.
The visitors arrived last weekend and started its program yesterday by visiting two elementary schools. The students and teachers will visit eight more schools before heading back to Japan this Saturday.
“We tried singing a song in Chamorro,” Yamanaka said when asked what they did at the start of the program.
Hata added the Japanese students met with Saipan students yesterday and exchanged ideas in a normal classroom setting. Last year, Hata brought different students on Saipan, too, and they visited San Antonio, Garapan, and Koblerville elementary schools.
Meanwhile, Yamanaka and Hata said they will be bringing in men’s and women’s soccer teams on Saipan in February next year for a series of friendly games.