Wearing their new red uniforms, the Japanese National Team took the field after a nine-month pause. A total of 20 players will compete for the 15-athlete Olympic roster.
An expanded Japanese National/Olympic Women’s Softball Team held their first training session on Tuesday at the Yokohama Stadium, the main venue of the Tokyo 2020 softball and baseball competitions. A total of 18 players trained together for the first national team activity in nine months due to the pandemic. Japan’s top 20 softballers are aiming to make the 15-player Olympic roster and help defend the nation’s gold medal on home soil next year — the squad has two injured players that were not part of the first session.
The Japan National Women’s Softball Team has not been active as a team since the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics for one year, and after cancelling a training camp in March due to the spread of the new coronavirus infection.
Among the 20 players reporting to training was 38-year-old ace Yukiko Ueno, who led Bic Camera Bee Queen to the 2020 Japanese Softball league title a week ago. “We just prepare well with a sense of mission to win the gold medal,” Ueno said.
Reika Utsugi, Japan’s softball coach, said: “I would like to raise the level further to win the gold medal and develop a new strategy. First of all, I want to have fun and create a sense of unity as a team.
“I am thinking of returning to zero and rethinking everything because the Olympics were postponed. All 20 players have a chance (to make the final 15-player roster),” said Utsugi, who won two Olympic medals as a player.
The Japanese National/Olympic Team training camp will run through 25 November, with the next camp scheduled for 1-15 December in Kochi City.
Japanese National Women’s Softball National Team
Credit: WBSC Global Newsletter