Smiles and laughter were everywhere to be seen and heard in Shizuoka, Japan on Friday March 17. The Shizuoka stadium was abuzz with activity as 260 boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 15 from ten South East Asian countries were introduced to rugby. Japan Rugby Football Union staff and volunteers kept the children busy with fun rugby activities.
The ten day Tag Rugby Camp is part of the Japanese Government’s JENESYS programme. The JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) Programme focusses on building strong solidarity within Asia through large-scale youth exchange.
“This is the first time that Japanese Government is using Tag Rugby to as the foundation for the exchange programme” said Koji Tokumasu, President of Asia Rugby. It was significant that the children visited the Shizuoka stadium because it is one of the 12 stadiums for Rugby World Cup 2019 and the children will go home with a lasting memory.
It was not only the children who has had a great experience so far. Each group brought their own chaperones and Rose Lanticse from Philippines Rugby Football Union reported on social media :
” Our athletes are put in teams together with other countries, and made more friends today! ” . Yudha Ramon from Indonesia Rugby expressed his gratitude towards JENESYS when he said “I am so happy today, my group played 5 times and won 5 times in tag rugby.. but the greatest thing is that they are having super fun. Giving high fives after their matches gives me a pleasant feeling.. ”
With this JENESYS project already proving to be a great success it is anticipated that more rugby focused exchange programmes will follow in the run up to the much awaited Rugby World Cup that will be played in Japan in late 2019.