February 16, 2022
Japan's oldest and most popular professional baseball team, Yomiuri Giants, held an online training camp for more than 400 young athletes in Mindanao recently.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many countries, including the Philippines, to close athletic fields and school gyms and many Filipino youth athletes struggled and weighed concerns on transmitting the virus versus joining team sports and competitions.
With this, Japan's Yomiuri Giants and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) hosted the online training camp for baseball in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd)-Davao City Division, Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku, and Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School as a move to promote sports and overall well-being of youth in Mindanao, including those from the Bangsamoro, in the safest way possible.
Players from Yomiuri Giants coaching Filipino youth participants on stance for batting.
"JICA welcomes the strong and continuous initiative of Yomiuri Giants and Philippine schools in our quest to contribute to a better quality of life for all people, most especially the young generation, through our development cooperation work. Along this line, sports are important for both physical and mental health, and we are pleased to support this training camp, even online amid the pandemic," said JICA Chief Representative AZUKIZAWA Eigo.
The training camp also included lessons on nutrition education, while some 480 baseballs as well as 300 caps were donated by Yomiuri Giants to be distributed to the participants.
DepEd Regional Director Allan Farnazo said sports like baseball, even if training is online, can help promote discipline, communication, and team play among young people.
A report from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that the pandemic and lack of face-to-face schooling will impact productivity loss in the country's human capital investment and returns. This is estimated at 15.5 trillion pesos for the next 40 years.
Thus, JICA added that supporting human development through sports can have long-term impact not only in promoting life balance but also in young people's holistic development.
Aside from this, JICA has been supporting peace building activities in Mindanao since 2002. As of late, JICA's assistance to Peace and Development of Mindanao include the Capacity Development Project for the Bangsamoro, concessional loans to agribusiness enterprises and financial institutions (Project HARVEST), and Road Network Development Project in Conflict Affected Areas in Mindanao, to cite a few.
This year's baseball event welcomed more than 400 participants including many those from Bangsamoro region which shows the great potential of development of young people through sports.
Yomiuri Giants with online baseball camp participants.