By Roy Mabasa
Unknown to many Filipino baseball aficionados, Japan’s most popular and oldest professional baseball team, the Yomiuri Giants, recently visited the country to conduct a baseball camp geared to strengthen ties between Japan and the Philippines and further promote development cooperation in Mindanao.
More than 300 schoolchildren from Davao and various parts of Mindanao attended Giants’ baseball camp jointly organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Mindanao Kokusai Daigaku and the Philippine Nikkei Jin Kai International School.
Held in Davao City last week, the Giants team members taught the schoolchildren the fine points of pitching and hitting in baseball, considered as the national sports of Japan.
In promoting baseball among Filipino schoolchildren, JICA Senior Representative Yo Ebisawa said, “Sports is considered to be a vital core of all human lives in ways that also help enhance human security.”
JICA’s support in sports development also aligns with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and its contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including empowerment of youth, women, and communities.
Aside from the baseball camp, JICA and Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office also held earthquake preparedness among the youth.
The Yomiuri Giants, also known by its nickname ‘Kyojin’, plays their home games in the Tokyo dome, the largest roof-covered dome in the world. The famous Tokyo-based team owned by media conglomerate Yomiuri Group was founded in 1934.
For almost half a century – from 1950 to 2000 – the Giants have been the most dominant team in Japan’s baseball series by winning a total of 19 championships.