About a thousand people took part in the Otachimisaki Beach Soccer Festival 2006 in Ashikita, Kumamoto prefecture on 20-21 May, sponsored by the Kumamoto Soccer Association, and supported by the Japan Beach Soccer Network (JBSN) and GSA Kyushu and Okinawa.
The event was divided into a Champions Class for the pros, and Friendship, Women's, Junior High School and Primary school classes for the rest.
GSA Kyushu/ Okinawa Team Captain, Hiroyuki Ito, has been promoting environmental awareness and action at the event through the Ecoflag, and this year's actions included:
-An environmental statement in each team's application form, which then go on display in the town hall for a year.
-Environmental considerations included in the athlete's oath
-The goal of the Ecoflag Movement is included in event announcements
-Ecoflag goods are on sale at the event
-A flea market is included as part of the event
-A beach 'clean up' is included in the opening ceremony
-Parking limitations are used to encourage car-pooling
-Kids carrying Ecoflags lead the finalists onto the pitch
Including this range of environmental actions is indispensable for spreading a high level of environmental awareness among sponsors, spectators and participants, although having run these measures continuously over a number of years, the overall impression is that those involved in the event already naturally include environmental considerations into the very fabric of their activities.
A clear result of these activities can be seen in the recent establishment of GSA Kumamoto and the adoption of the Ecoflag at Kumamoto Soccer Association league matches. Three of the four finalists in the Champions Class wear the Ecoflag on their uniforms and Ecoflag T-shirts and other goods can be seen everywhere.
The standard of play at the event was of the highest standard, and two of the players at the event are currently playing for the national team in the Beach Soccer World Cup Asian qualifier in Dubai. Not only does the event present itself as a model example of a beach sports event, but will leave a lasting impression on the many association and soccer related figures that witnessed the tournament.
The event was also the first for the newly established GSA Kumamoto and to mark the event, its volunteer staff member entered the Friendship Class competition as the 'Ape Club' team.
Report by Tadashi Kuramoto