I'm Komoto and I am in charge of operational management of Osaka Works' volleyball club.
Osaka Works' volleyball club participated in the 12th Zao Cup, held on October 9 and 10 at Tohoku Ricoh Tohoku Kaikan Arena in Shibata-machi, Miyagi Prefecture, an area devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, which is still fresh in our memory.
Tohoku Ricoh, from the Tohoku region, were our opponents in the final at the National Sports Festival of Japan held in Chiba Prefecture last year, and they have always been close competitors. Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake, on the request of other volleyball teams across Japan, our club took a leadership role in collecting and sending donations to Tohoku Ricoh team members who were affected by the disaster. At the All-Japan Corporate Team Championships held in Yamagata Prefecture last July, we also led a project that produced "recovery support" T-shirts and donated a part of the sales proceeds to affected areas through a tie-up with sports-goods manufacturers and other teams. Although the amount of donations was small, I hope it was of some help.
▲ Opening ceremony
Until last year, the Zao Cup has been held every year in early spring with the participation of volleyball teams from the Kanto and Tohoku regions. However, the event was postponed until autumn this year because of the impact of the disaster. This year's Zao Cup was made possible through the enthusiasm of Tohoku Ricoh's volleyball team, which hoped that a nine-man volleyball event would be held to help pray for the recovery of the disaster-stricken areas. The 12th Zao Cup was thus held with the participation of the previous year's top-ranked teams — Tohoku Ricoh (Miyagi), Yokogawa Electric (Tokyo), Sanden (Gunma) and Sumitomo Electric (Osaka).
The officials who devoted themselves to organizing this year's event included those who lost their parents and parents' homes to the tsunami. All the players and team staff were impressed to see all the officials and indeed the entire local community working together to make the event a success.
The local Tohoku Ricoh volleyball team won the Zao Cup this year. I believe this victory can be attributed to the combination of their determination to win and the enthusiasm of the local volleyball association and residents who committed themselves to organizing the event.
Our team, consisting primarily of young members, finished in third place, because their performance level was not quite good enough. But the club members were able to visit the affected areas themselves, gain first hand information that would otherwise have only been available through news reports, and realize the scale of the damage and what they should do as members of society.
We hoped that we would be able to encourage, cheer up and bring a smile to the local people by playing full out. Instead, the spectators encouraged us with their warm applause and cheers while we were playing. We are truly grateful to have had such a happy experience.
We will grow from this experience and work hard to meet your expectations at the next competition. We feel honored if we were able to cheer up and offer hope to people in the affected areas by playing our hearts out.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the local residents and many other people who cheered us on. I am also grateful to Miyagi Volleyball Association, Tohoku Ricoh and many other people who helped organize this event. Osaka Works' volleyball club will keep participating in activities to support the reconstruction of the disaster stricken areas and contribute to the local communities.
Finally, we will participate in two major competitions soon — Sakurada Memorial Corporate Team Tournament (Sakurada Cup) to be held in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture on December 3 and 4 this year, and the All-Japan General Championships to be held in Osaka City from January 27 to 29 next year. We will all do our best in the competitions and would appreciate your support and cheers.
Hang in there, Japan!! Hang in there, Tohoku!! We will do our best!!
♪ Related link： Sumitomo Electric's volleyball club's website (Japanese) http://www.sei.co.jp/osaka_vb/
♪ Related link： Tohoku Ricoh's volleyball team supporters' website (Japanese) http://www.zephyr.dti.ne.jp/~lesath/