MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
Sports provide a forum for people of different backgrounds and cultures to come together and take part in a shared interest.
The Misawa Jets basketball team fostered such a connection when they held a summer basketball camp with the Japan Railway East Akita Peckers team to strengthen bilateral bonds and improve skills, June 17.
The day's activities consisted of a tour of the base, a 35th Fighter Wing mission brief, an F-16 Fighting Falcon static display and a skills camp in preparation for the upcoming basketball season starting in October.
“At Misawa Air Base, we have a rich and unique bond with our Japanese community,” said Eugene Scott, 35th Operations Group executive officer and Misawa Jets assistant coach. “This tour and camp promotes and strengthens U.S. and Japanese relations while working together on all fronts.”
While the tour of Misawa AB highlighted the base’s purpose and the role Airmen play in the mission, the basketball event focused on honing skills like dribbling, passing, shooting, footwork and team plays.
"We were very excited to play a professional team in the aspects of getting ready for our upcoming season,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Hollins, a pharmacy technician with the 35th Medical Support Squadron. “This shows us where our weaknesses are and what we need to focus on. This was also an amazing opportunity to learn some Japanese basketball tricks and possibly use them in our future plays."
Basketball itself provides a unique opportunity through which Japanese and American citizens can come together and immerse themselves in one another's cultures.
“It’s a great opportunity to have fun, learn, and make new friends while doing something you love,” said Scott. “For us, it is basketball.”
For the 40 participants of the event, this was a chance to share new knowledge and develop friendships.
"I learned a lot of American plays coming here and playing the American team, and will incorporate their playing style into our future games," said Hikaru Sato, Japan Railway East Akita Peckers team captain.
Scott said he aims for this to be an annual event to ensure athletes are constantly improving themselves and sharing their knowledge with their Japanese counterparts.
“Providing a tour coupled with exchanging knowledge between athletes will continue to build on our great relationship,” Scott said. “Ball is life.”