The many insights gained from experiencing para-sports
A field day in which all participants are beginners
The Asuchalle! Field Day offers a new-style of field day for companies, municipal government organisations and universities which incorporates para-sports into general field days. Participants can experience official Paralympic sports such as boccia and goalball as well as other para-sports that are not yet very well known.
Asuchalle! Field Day
Asuchalle! Field Day for corporate organisations gives participants the opportunity to experience the challenge of para-sports for visually impaired and wheelchair-bound athletes. Experiencing para-sports gives people an insight into the variety of barriers encountered in society and also grants an awareness of the communication and team cohesiveness needed to overcome those barriers.
Since September 2016, JTB has been supporting development of the Asuchalle! Field Day programme and since November has conducted para-sports field days trials.
Athlete's oath of fair play
The athlete's oath of fair play was recited by the participants. After reciting the oath, the participants took part in radio calisthenics to loosen up their bodies.
Asuchalle! Icebreaker (blind grouping)
Before the actual sports event begins, participants are asked to take part in an original programme titled Asuchalle! Icebreaker, wearing eye masks that cut off their vision. Next the participants form groups without being able to see. The MC announces a category such as blood type or hometown and participants gather people together who fit in the same category. Everyone began by calling out to everyone else, which created a state of confusion. Eventually, an increasing number of people devised ways to call out that avoided confusion so that everyone was finally able to successfully divide up into groups.
Participants wear eyeshades and play the game in a totally blind condition. Goalball is played 3 against 3. Players try to throw a ball that has bells inside into the opponents' net. Players rely on the sound of the advancing ball to block it. Spectators watch quietly so that the players are able to differentiate between subtle sounds. Once the participants got used to the game, they were able to react to the sound of the ball.
First a white target ball, known as a jack ball, is thrown and then 6 red balls and 6 blue balls are thrown. The team with the most balls near the jack ball wins. Players who are unable to throw the ball are also able to play the game using a piece of auxiliary equipment called a ramp, which is similar to a slide, to roll the balls. Boccia is a game that requires strategy and everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.
Volleyball played with the buttocks in partial contact with the floor. Compared to regular volleyball, the net is lower and the court is smaller. Players trying to hit a high ball unconsciously raise their buttocks off the floor, even though this is against the rules. As the game progressed, participants got the knack of moving quickly, which made for long rallies.
Portball, played in a wheelchair, is a similar game to basketball. A player is allowed to move by pushing the wheelchair only twice at a time while holding the ball. A travel violation is called if a player pushes three or more times without dribbling the ball. At first, participants had a tough time operating the wheelchairs, but gradually were able to move quickly.
Participants also sit in wheelchairs to run the relay, which is the star event of the field day. All the participants were inexperienced; however, people who thought they could never do it moved at unexpected speeds.
When the event started, the participants were slightly apprehensive, wondering what would happen next. But as the programme progressed, it was clear that their expectations were increasingly rising as they looked forward to the next game. Eventually, it turned out to be a highly enjoyable field day that left everyone with beaming smiles.
02Thoughts of the person in charge of Paralympic promotion at JTB
Thoughts of the person in charge of Paralympic promotion at JTB
A para-sports event that adults can participate in
In addition to sponsoring the Nippon Foundation Paralympic Support Center's (Para Support) Asuchalle! Field Day, the JTB Group also assists in programme development and operations, and serves as a coordinating office contact. JTB's motive for sponsorship arose around June 2016. By that time Para Support was already holding Asuchalle! School interactive classes on para-sports for elementary, junior-high and high-school students, and Asuchalle! Academy communication seminars for adults conducted by lecturers with physical disabilities, but Para Support was exploring the possibility of developing a new programme that let adults actually experience para-sports. The JTB Group has a wealth of experience in providing a variety of universal tourism experiences and many years of involvement in field days for companies, so we took up the challenge of para-sports event development with a focus on field days that adults can participate in.
When developing the programme, importance was placed on offering a variety of sports which a large number of participants could enjoy. The sports are all first time experiences for most participants, so it was a trial-and-error process to develop clear explanations of the rules and essential points of play. In addition, the programme was developed to give participants and spectators insights into the overall nature of para-sports. In order for the players to enjoy playing the new sports we made some changes to the events, such as by switching the basketball style with the portball style, which made it easier to score. Spectators were also instructed in the cheering methods unique to para-sports. Through the process of holding repeated trials, the programme content was improved enough to enable all the participants to understand the rules of each sport in a short amount of time and to enjoy playing the sports.
A field day in an environment of equality for everyone to enjoy
The Asuchalle! Field Day has several features that differentiate it from regular field days. The first feature being that it’s ‘an inclusive event that anyone can play an active part in’. Participants in regular field days are usually people with sports experience and people with excellent physical abilities. However, most of the participants in an Asuchalle! Field Day are having a go at these sports for the first time, so they can enjoy competing together on an equal basis without any difference in ability. Participants are also put into a blind condition or are unable to use their legs, making it difficult to use their normal exercise capacities and sporting abilities, so there is always an element of surprise as to which players will be particularly successful. This is one reason the field days are so exciting for everyone. We received favorable evaluations of the trials on the questionnaires. Many people made comments such as “It was more fun that I thought it would be”, “I experienced new sensations” and “I was able to enjoy the sports with everyone.”
The second feature is that ‘communication’ is extremely important. Communicative ability is essential in order to demonstrate teamwork when in a state of physical limitation. When players are able to communicate skillfully, their performance improves visibly. Assisting each other by actively calling out to each other and taking hold of each other's hands gives players experience in close communication which is also very effective for team-building.
The third feature is the generation of ‘insights’. Actual experience gives people a better understanding and more actual feeling for the barriers faced by persons with disabilities. After experiencing an Asuchalle! Field Day most people should become more sensitive to the barriers that exist in daily life. It may also be an opportunity which enables people to become more considerate in their dealings with disabled persons. The insight I gained through actually participating in an Asuchalle! Field Day is how great the things that para-athletes manage to do actually are. A natural respect for para-athletes is born and it gets you more interested in the Paralympics and para-sports.
Expanding the number of spectators who really enjoy para-sports
I found that once you experience para-sports, your impression will completely change. You realise that para-sport is really cool and it's a genre with amazing hidden potential. At a seminar, I heard that the greatest wish of para-athletes is to have their sports well-known by the public. What increases the motivation of para-athletes more than anything else is the spectators that cheer them on. Not only para-sports but all sports each have their own special manners for when to cheer the players, etc. This unifies the players and spectators in a way that provides a cultural aspect to each sport.
I hope that the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games are watched by a great number of spectators with an understanding and a love for para-sports. If the para-athletes who gather from all around the world to participate in the Paralympics leave with the feeling that ‘the Tokyo audience is the best’, that will be a legacy we can be proud of to the world. By having as many people as possible experience an Asuchalle! Field Day that changes the way people view para-sports, I believe we can make the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games an even more wonderful event. And with this opportunity afforded by the Paralympics, the para-sports movement will make a large contribution toward realising an ideal society in which the barriers between disabled and able-bodied persons are eliminated.
* Title at the time material for the article was gathered.
* Trial content may differ from actual programme content.