UNICEF and Children from Fukushima join FIVB World Cup action in Tokyo3 December 2011
accompanied the players of Japan and
Italy for their match © FIVB
Tokyo (UNICEF) – Within 2 weeks of the United Nations (UN) and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) signing a two-year partnership agreement, actions for change were already in motion to harness the power of volleyball to bring about positive social change.
The spectators attending the next-to-last match of team Japan scheduled for Saturday evening at "Yoyogi National Gymnasium" in Tokyo were evidently moved as the speaker announced that the players were accompanied for the match protocol by a group of young kids identified by UNICEF who had traveled to Japan’s capital city after being evacuated from Fukushima, where a severe nuclear crisis was triggered following the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan this past March 11.
“It is a great pleasure for all of us to invite to this great competition children coming from an area that was so deeply affected by the Tohoku earthquake” says the President of the Japan Volleyball Association, Mr. Taizaburo Nakano. “Via this action we are providing these kids with an opportunity to feel how wonderful sport is and to contribute some hope and joy as they get in touch with the players of our national team. We definitely want to continue that kind of social actions also in the near future” he stresses.
Future cooperation between the United Nations and the FIVB will be realized through the implementation of joint development and humanitarian projects, in collaboration with the national Volleyball federations in countries where FIVB tournaments will be staged, as well as with relevant UN organizations.
Via the valuable help of the local staff we got the opportunity to catch their impressions and emotions. Yuka Itakura, 12 years of age, says: “I am very happy and it was fun because I never had such an experience. I played volleyball before, so I want to become a national team player like them”. Soichiro Kasahara, 10 years old, adds: “The players were very big. I want to become like them”.
Japan is a country whose people are well known for their humbleness and self-control, but tonight they loudly cheered on that group of children thereby expressing their sympathy for all those people whose lives have dramatically changed after March 11. Apart from the many great actions and classy games that entertained the audience since the start of the competition a couple of weeks ago in Nagoya and Kagoshima this will surely remain as one of the unforgettable moments associated to the 2011 FIVB World Cup.