Friday, April 21, 2017
Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop MP visited the Australian Embassy in Tokyo, Japan yesterday to launch the 2018 Australia now initiative and promote sports diplomacy between the two countries with the Touch Football Blossoms in Japan project as the centre piece.
The event showcased a skills demonstration by Touch Football Australia (TFA) and Japan Touch Association (JTA) to promote female participation in sport. TFA High Performance Manager, Wayne Grant, attended the launch and highlighted the benefits the project offers.
“Through this project, we are hopeful that the Japanese participants will be able to not only improve their touch football skills, but also experience the benefits that living a healthy lifestyle and engaging in regular physical activity provides,” Grant said.
Australian Women’s Open player, Ms Marikki Watego, was also in attendance and had the honour of playing with JTA female players at the Embassy Garden in the presence of the Foreign Minister.
“I am privileged to have had the opportunity to represent Australia and play alongside Japan players to promote our game. This project is highly beneficial for growing Touch Football in the Asian region and further expand the game on an international level,” Watego said.
The combined TFA and JTA project aims to increase Japanese women’s participation in sport and raise the profile of touch football in Japan. The project funded by the Australia-Japan Foundation has provided an opportunity for nearly 300 Japanese female players to learn from the best TFA coaches.
The project is delivering participation clinics for girls aged 12 to 20 in regions of Tokushima, Osaka and Chiba. While in country, TFA has been establishing longer term participation programs through the training and education of the Japan Touch Association workforce. This will establish a sustainable model for participation and provide over 300 girls the opportunity to participate and benefit from physical activity.
The intention of the project is to assist JTA to build governance, and commercial and sport development models to set it up for longer term sustainability. Touch Football is certainly growing in Japan; however, there is a lack of resources and structure currently to allow it to reach its full potential. TFA has the expertise and resources needed for the sport to flourish in Japan. The skills sharing, expertise and support will accelerate growth and longer term viability.
TFA is working closely and regularly with JTA, the Australia Japan Foundation and government contacts in both Australia and Japan. TFA’s General Manager of Engagement and Compliance, Tim Arnold, expressed his delight towards the project and the benefits of the joint initiative.
“We are excited to assist in increasing the opportunities awarded to female participants playing Touch Football globally,” he said.
“We are privileged to have the support of the Australia-Japan Foundation which is accelerating a lot of the plans we developed with JTA at the beginning of 2016 when the partnership was announced.
“This project will indeed provide a legacy for the sport of touch football to continue to grow; from the grassroots to the elite levels in Japan.
“Sports diplomacy plays a critical role in strengthening the relationship between nationals and we can’t wait to continue working with and the Australian Government as part of the 2018 Australia now initiative in Japan next year Arnold added.
TFA is committed to the long-term partnership with JTA and would like to acknowledge and thank the Australian Japan Foundation and the Australian Government for its support in delivering the project to grow the game and awareness internationally.