Okinawan-American Friendship Basketball Tournament Draws Hundreds
Okinawa District Superintendent's Office
OKINAWA, Japan | January 29, 2013
Hundreds of student-athletes, families, coaches, educators and spectators filled Risner Gym for the 7th Annual Okinawan-American Friendship Basketball Tournament January 26 and 27.
In a dramatic overtime finish, the Kadena High School boys’ team edged out Oroku High School to clinch the championship title. The Kadena girls’ team also successfully defended their championship title for the second consecutive year.
While players and spectators alike enjoyed the robust competition, they came away with something far more valuable than a trophy.
“This is not just about basketball,” said U.S. Consul General Alfred Magleby, who sponsored the tournament with the Department of Defense Education Activity Okinawa District. “This is to build friendship between Okinawans and Americans.”
Konan High School boys’ team captain Kan Saisho said he felt a spirit of camaraderie with the American players, exchanging high fives with them in between games.
“I was amazed with the height and strong physical movements of the American players,” said 16-year-old Saisho. “Usually we have to go to the mainland to play at that level of competition. The American teams provided that experience right here.”
Teams from each of the nine high schools competing were able to showcase their talent while learning from each other. “This is just one example of the friendly ties between our Okinawan hosts and American culture,” said Kadena High School Principal Terry Gibson.
Educators and military leaders alike were impressed with the sportsmanship displayed by the Okinawan and American student-athletes. “What an excellent venue this is to bring our two nations together through this tournament,” said 18th Wing Vice Commander Col. Charles McDaniel.
Speaking directly to the teams, Tournament Director and Kubasaki High School Athletic Director Fred Bales offered high praise. “Thank you for the discipline you show and for your tremendous spirit. We salute you,” he said.
The tournament was made possible with help from the Okinawa Basketball Association, the 18th Wing, Kadena Risner Gym, the Ryukyu Golden Kings, the Defense Commissary Agency and 70 volunteers.
“The community support with facilities, base access and the outstanding volunteers helped to make the 7th annual tournament a great success,” said DoDEA Okinawa Superintendent Michael Thompson. “The tournament has certainly grown and exemplifies the original intent by the Consulate and DoDEA schools to increase friendship and partnerships with the Okinawa schools through sports.”
- - -
The Department of Defense Dependent Schools Okinawa District is one of four school districts within the Department of Defense Education Activity Pacific Region. DoDEA Pacific provides a comprehensive preK-12 education to the children of military and eligible civilian personnel families serving throughout Asia. DoDEA Okinawa District is composed of 13 schools, approximately 7,000 students and 950 professional educators and support staff. To learn more, visit http://www.dodea.edu/pacific/okinawa