Mangilao, Guam – Thirteen-year-old GianCarlo Abril thoroughly enjoyed a rare opportunity to play in a mini-futsal tournament with visiting students from Japan at the University of Guam Fieldhouse and hopes to participate in future exchanges.
“It was a great event to interact with people from different cultures who play the same sport,” said Abril, an incoming freshman at Father Duenas Memorial School. “We don’t have many opportunities to play futsal, so this was a great experience for me, and for others on the team. I’d love to participate in future events like this one.”
Abril was one of a handful of Guam’s U14 and U16 national team training squad members who competed against visiting students from Japan’s Wasegaku High School system during their annual excursion to Guam.
[Photo: Guam Football Association youth administrator Robby De Guzman participates in gift exchange with visiting students from Wasegaku High School after Guam’s youth national training squad members competed in a mini futsal tournament with the visitors. Photo courtesy of Jill Espiritu.]
A total of 158 students from 11 different campuses were represented in this year’s event, according to Mike Iwanaka, H.I.S. Guest Relations/Group Manager, who assisted with coordinating the event with UOG. The event also included a mini basketball tournament, as well as cultural demonstrations by organizations including Hurao Academy. In addition to learning about Guam’s culture and people, the visiting students also coordinated 11 stations featuring different aspects of Japanese culture to showcase to attendees at the event. Stations included a judo demonstration, bamboo helicopters, newspaper sword fighting, group jump rope, and others.
“This is the second year we’ve partnered with H.I.S. to provide these activities for this particular group of students from Japan through our English Adventure Program,” said Russell Ocampo, UOG Outreach Coordinator. “Each year, through the English Adventure Program, part of the larger Professional and International Programs (PIP), we play host to more than 5,000 visiting from places like Japan, Korea, and Russia. The visiting students learn English through the program, while also participating in cultural activities.
“Particularly with Guam Football Association, we eventually would like to coordinate activities through the English Adventure Program with visiting school or professional teams that also want to learn English and participate in cultural activities while here in Guam. The program allows for one-day events like this one with Wasegaku High School to others that span six weeks,” Ocampo added.
The Wasegaku High School students ranged from 17 to 18 years old. The school offers students a non-traditional learning environment, allowing the students to complete their studies with mostly online courses, Iwanaka said.
“This is a great opportunity for the students to socialize with each other since they don’t normally see each other often in school and also to interact with people here in Guam,” Iwanaka said. “It also gives them a chance to showcase their culture, while also learning about Guam’s culture. For the sports portion of the day, we chose soccer and basketball, since those are fairly common in Japan.
“This is one of many visiting groups we coordinate with as part of our long-term goal of expanding our overall groups market,” Iwanaka added.
At the end of the day, Guam’s youth national training squad members won their matches against the visitors, including the final match. On behalf of GFA, youth administrator Robby De Guzman participated in a gift exchange with the visitors, and also presented a KIA FIFA World Cup promotional soccer ball to the visiting group.