Monday, October 1, 2012

The Kochi Fighting Dogs

The Kochi FD players promise a victory to the children.
The Kochi Fighting Dog’s mascot, “Dockey”.
The strong image of the Tosa fighting dogs
 gives an image of a strong team.
   The Kochi Fighting Dogs (abbreviated as Kochi FD below) was birthed in 2005 as Kochi Prefecture’s team in IBLJ’s (Independent Baseball League of Japan) unified Shikoku Island League. After that, in 2006 IBLJ recruited investors from each prefecture in Shikoku and the present Kochi FD team was formed. The independent league, Shikoku Island League Plus, is a place where players who aim to enter major league and pro league can hone their talents. All the players are chasing their dream of entering into the pro league, and so far Keisuke Yasuda (Softbank Hawks), Katsuya Kakunaka (Chiba Lotte Marines), and Kazuya Iida (Softbank Hawks) have been able to move up to the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball). In the past there were management difficulties that endangered the continuation of the team, but they were able to overcome them and become loved by many fans as Kochi’s representative baseball team.
   This time, we were able to interview the director of the Kochi FD, Shigekazu Takemasa.

“I’m so busy, and I don’t have time
to play any sports that I enjoy,”
says Takemasa.

What is the mission of the Kochi FD?
   The mission of the Kochi FD is divided into two large parts. One is to get players into the NPB. We train players, and aim to have them scouted and recognized during the draft at the end of November, hopefully eventually entering one of the 12 teams. Our other goal is to liven up Kochi Prefecture. The members of our baseball team, along with the staff, find problems that are affecting our region, and along with our sponsor companies work to help solve those problems.

On your website, there are posts about “Dog’s fields” and “Dog’s Ginger.”
   That’s right. For example, the Dog’s Ginger in Tosayamada and Ochi is from our Dog’s fields, which combine baseball and agriculture to actively promote agriculture in previously cultivated land that has been abandoned due to Kochi’s aging and declining population. With these activities we aren’t simply trying to decrease the amount of abandoned land, we are making our sponsors happy as well as sending delicious products to consumers.

International Fighting Dogs!
It looks like you also have some foreign players on the team.
   Yes, for a long time foreign players have been succeeding in the Kochi FD. Right now we have Sun Yifan, who is from China, and Charlie, who is from America. We’ve also had players from many other countries, such as Korea, Australia, and Venezuela. We also have four Japanese staff members and two players who have had experience living abroad. As people who all love the same sport, they are able to use the approaches learned in their respective countries and overcome barriers created by language and cultural difference, creating a sense of unity and aiming for victory together.

Has there been any problems concerning language?
   Not really. Our staff members can speak English. However, it was a complete coincidence that we have so many staff members that have experience living abroad. It’s not as if we think it’s a complete necessity to be able to speak English. The rules for baseball are the same all throughout the world, so there aren’t any really big problems with communication.

Is there anything that the staff has learned from their time abroad?
   Yes, I think one is the sense that they can mingle openly with the spectators and enjoy baseball together with them. There isn’t really that way of thinking in Japan, which has so many rules.

Lastly, could you please tell us about your goals from now?
   We’re aiming to be the number one team in Japan, and to get as many players as possible into the Pro League. We also want to get more of our fans to see our games, and come to our stadium! We are also hoping to avoid any more management difficulties.
When asked what his best memory was, Murakami replied
“When I played at Koshien (Japanese High School Baseball Championship).”

Interacting with the community is important!
Here they are asking the players questions.
Now that the players are in front of them,
they are too nervous to ask anything!
   On August 4th, we went to the interleague game with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks 3rd team, which was also Kid’s Day. An event was held to allow the children to interview the players. The children who came to the baseball stadium were able to tour the dugout before the game, experience being an announcer, try out being a ball boy, and question the players. Through these experiences they felt closer to baseball than ever before, and were full of excitement and nervousness.

   The Kochi FD believes it is important to interact with the community, and will host summer campaigns and stalls at summer festivals, especially in their hometowns of Sakawa and Ochi.
After the event, this reporting group asks the players for their autographs.
Let’s go to the baseball stadium!
   The times are undecided at the moment, but the Kochi FD plans to host international days, where people of foreign nationality can see the games for half price (500 yen). Even if you don’t have an interest in baseball, please come and see a game at least once! You’ll be a Kochi Fighting Dogs fan in no time!

   The schedules for the games are updated on the website regularly, so please take a look!
The Kochi Fighting Dogs
Location: 13-17 Minami-kubo, Kochi City 780-0087
TEL: 088-878-0775
FAX: 088-878-0776
Training Grounds: Ochi Public Athletics Park

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