Japan as host of the U18 Men Softball Asia Cup and the 12th Men’s Asia Cup in Kochi, Japan will certainly be looking at a double victory, just like last September, when they hosted the inaugural U23 and 11th Men’s Asia Cup.
Japan will be even more fired up after their shock defeat to Chinese Taipei in Puli, Chinese Taipei last week in the inaugural U15 Women’s final.
And as host of the inaugural U15 World Cup, they will certainly be looking at planting their right footing as a run-up to the upcoming event with an unblemished home record.
Five nations – Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Chinese Taipei and host Japan – will compete in the U18 Men tournament starting tomorrow at the Haruno – Kochi Softball Fields at the Kochi Recreation Park.
With full support from the Governor and Mayor’s office in Kochi, the host will certainly be going all out for a perfect outing.
Of course, hoping to spoil the party for Japan will be Chinese Taipei as their strongest challengers, while Singapore and Hong Kong could be spring some surprise.
India, the fifth team in the tournament, have already started on the wrong foot as they are only arriving tomorrow morning when they have a scheduled match at 9.30am.
Apparently India has some ticket booking issues and Softball Asia has been nice to grant them to play their morning match against Chinese Taipei on Friday but will have to play their second match against host Japan at 3.00pm.
Yesterday, the team managers meeting was held minus India.
The tournament is being held in a beautiful city of Kochi where the main attraction is the 31-km-long Kagami River which runs through city, and is known for its clean water that reflects the cityscape (hence, its name ‘mirror river’).
Nestled with a surrounding of mountains, Kochi is indeed charming city where one can enjoy a delightful afternoon stroll, fish for some local eel or sweet-fish, spot a variety of wild birds, and feel a beautiful sense of calm despite being at the heart of a bustling city.
But the players will not have time to enjoy the beauty of he city which includes exploring the 400-year-old Kochi Castle and explore the beauty of the city.
Indeed, sad after having made the long journey here, as the teams will be more focused on the competition, which also serves as qualifier for the World Cup in Mexico.
The prefecture of Kochi which is known as the ‘mecca of softball’ as it was widely played until lately, through Tomoaki Okamoto the Executive Director of Japan Softball Association (JSA), who was born in Shimanto, is making an earnest effort to popularise the game here again.
After the international U23 and Men’s Asia Cup tournaments last year, the two back to back tournaments this week, will certainly be pumping up the softball atmosphere here in this beautiful city.
Schoolchildren are expected to turn up to watch in full force and cheer the teams on.
It is indeed ‘Game Time and ‘Play Ball’ time today!