The team, led by a coach with a unique background, reached the last eight for the first time in the club.

The fight was to realize the grand goal of spreading the charm of baseball to the world.

A unique director who spans the world

Visiting Zimbabwe as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer

Coach TSUTSUMI Naohiko, who leads Okayama Sanyo High School, has a unique background, having played in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers as the coach of the Zimbabwe National Team.

When I was in college, when I was on the verge of losing sight of the joy of baseball due to failing to achieve results as a player, I was fascinated by people who were struggling overseas to popularize baseball that I saw on TV, and in December 1995, after graduating from university, I went to Zimbabwe in southern Africa as a member of the Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCVs) to convey the charm of baseball to the world in order to give back to the baseball I love.

For about two years in Zimbabwe, he has been involved in activities such as teaching baseball to children by visiting schools in various places, and has also worked to promote baseball in Ghana and Indonesia, such as coaching national teams and holding baseball classes in Thailand.

Through his activities over the past 2 years, he has gained confidence that the appeal of baseball will surely be conveyed, but he also felt that there were many issues such as the lack of human resources and tools to be involved in the activities locally.

Naohiko Tsutsumi: "Looking at the world, I was reminded that baseball is still a minor sport compared to soccer, and I keenly felt the limits of popularization only by volunteers."

Becoming a high school baseball coach

Through these activities, Coach Tsutsumi felt the need to nurture the next generation.

Meanwhile, a scandal at the baseball team prompted me to be approached by Okayama Sanyo High School, who was looking for a replacement manager.

Coach Tsutsumi decided to take up the position 17 years ago in 2006 because he thought that becoming a high school baseball coach who could interact with high school students who are still in the process of developing their personalities on a daily basis would lead to the development of human resources for the spread of baseball.

We have been building a team with the aim of spreading baseball, which is loved by the community and even to the world, and being supported by various people.

However, we couldn't win the match as much as we wanted, and the players' attitude towards life did not change easily.

As a result of worrying about how to convey my thoughts to the students well, I decided to create guidelines for the baseball team and compiled them into 66 club lessons.

For example, Article 14 of the club motto states, "I don't love Koshien, I love baseball."

As a result of being able to distance himself from the desire to win games and go to Koshien, and to enjoy baseball, which he loves, to the fullest, the team's policy gradually permeated the players, and the results naturally followed.

Even when Koshien was canceled due to the new coronavirus, this club precept has become an important guidepost that supported the hearts of the players who were about to break.

Collect baseball equipment and send it to developing countries

In addition, the team has been collecting disused baseball equipment such as gloves and bats and sending them to developing countries such as Africa for more than 10 years.

However, the fact is that there is a limit to how much such activities can be carried out by a single team.

In order to expand the circle of activities, he felt that the shortcut was to participate in Koshien, where many people are interested, and let people know about the promotion activities.

Tsutsumi: "Participating in Koshien is not an objective, but a means to spread baseball around the world, and we have been aiming for Koshien together with the players."

Koshien as a "means" grasped

Then, six years ago, in 6, he participated in Koshien for the first time in his 2017th year in office.

Although they did not win, they learned about Okayama Sanyo's promotion activities through the media, and the circle of activities gradually expanded, such as high school and baseball teams from inside and outside the prefecture donating equipment.

This year's team

And this year's team.

When the new team was formed last summer, we decided that playing in Koshien for as long as possible would lead to the spread of baseball around the world, and we have been fighting with the goal of "winning three games in Koshien."

This summer, they made their second appearance and achieved their goal by winning three matches from the first round to reach the quarter-finals.

The upper right is Watanabe Hayato

Captain Watanabe Hayato
said, "It is true that the number of baseball players around the world, including Japan, is decreasing, and we had to win as many games in Koshien as possible in order to get as many people as possible to cooperate in the promotion activities.

Koshien 3 wins delivered to the world

LINE communication with local friends

Okayama Sanyo's activities this summer were attracting attention overseas.

He received congratulatory messages from local students from more than 10 countries, including Zimbabwe and Thailand, who watched the players play via the Internet.

Tsutsumi: "After watching the video of the battle in Koshien, I think that each play was cheered on very loudly, and people recognized that baseball is such an interesting sport.

Tsutsumi says his big dream of building a baseball stadium in Zimbabwe is also in motion.

The team's next goal is Japan, but that's just a means.

The Okayama Sanyo Baseball Club will continue to walk with the cause of "spreading the charm of baseball, which we love, to the world."