Big goals change everyone The potential of parasports

* Information at the time of publication (2021.8.25).

● Interview video of Deputy Director Okubo (05:13)

The "Kobe 2022 World Para Athletics Championships" is finally approaching one year later. Top athletes from all over the world gather in Kobe. In fact, here in Kobe, parasports are popular. We asked Masaki Okubo, Deputy Director of the Kobe Social Welfare Council / Sports Promotion Center for the Disabled, who has been involved in parasports in Kobe for over 20 years, about his expectations for the tournament.

-The "Sports Promotion Center for Persons with Disabilities" to which Mr. Okubo belongs has celebrated its 10th anniversary this year (2021) as a base for parasports in Kobe.

Okubo In 2011, it was established to take over the business of the Kobe City Sports Association for the Disabled. We are working to popularize parasports in Kobe in order to restore the functions and health of persons with disabilities and to promote the independence and social participation of persons with disabilities through sports.
The office is located at the Kobe Municipal Kobe Citizens' Welfare Exchange Center on the east side of Isogami Park in Sannomiya. From the 7th floor of this building to the top is the Citizens' Welfare Sports Center, which is used as a sports center equipped with facilities and tools that can be used by people with disabilities.

-Actually, Kobe and Parasports have a long and deep relationship.

Okubo Kobe had the "FESPIC Games" in 1989, which was a parasports competition in the Asia / South Pacific area. As a result, various parasports clubs such as swimming, wheelchair tennis, and para table tennis were born in Kobe.

-I saw the list of parasports clubs in Kobe city, but I was surprised that there were many competitions such as table tennis, baseball, Japanese-style baseball, basketball, shooting, archery, badminton, and volleyball.

Okubo Many teams are playing various competitions. I think Kobe is really active nationwide.

-Mr. Okubo has been involved in such parasports for a long time?

Okubo For over 20 years, I have been involved in sports instruction for people with disabilities as an instructor. What I specialize in is sitting volleyball, which is called "sitting volleyball." In addition to this, I also teach people with disabilities in various sports such as swimming, gymnastics and athletics in my work.

-Especially in that "Sitting Valley", it seems that the director of the Japanese national team has also been done so far. What did you feel at the scene?

Okubo Each member has overcome various obstacles. I didn't care if I had a disability or not with those members, I just came thinking about how to make it world-class together.

Sitting Valley Japan National Team playing at the World Championships Netherlands

-Did you feel that you have to overcome the wall after experiencing the world?

Okubo I think it's the healthy people who have to go beyond that. After all, there are many healthy people who are aware that they have a disability. But many people with disabilities don't want to be aware of it.

-I want you to see it as an athlete. On the contrary, it may be that the change of consciousness on this side is being asked. In that sense, the Tokyo Paralympics are being held now, but the existence of the Kobe Games next year will be a huge presence for people with disabilities.

Okubo That's right, it's a tournament that is one of the big goals. There are many people who have changed by having big goals because sports became one of the triggers.

-What kind of tournament do you want the Kobe tournament to be next year?

Athletics will also be held at the Okubo Tokyo Paralympics. Athletes who were also active there will gather in the city of Kobe a year later. First of all, I want you to hold it safely in Corona.
And I hope that the athletes will enjoy not only the competition but also the city of Kobe, and that it will be a tournament where athletes and the people of Kobe can interact with each other. I think that sports will develop further.

-Kobe's parasports are likely to become more and more lively.

I hope that many people with disabilities will come out to see the world's top para-athletes at the Okubo tournament and try to start onshore. I expect that the layer of para-athletics in Japan as a whole will grow thicker, not just in Kobe.

-thank you very much.

<Profile of Masaki Okubo>
He has been involved in parasports instruction and support in Kobe for over 20 years. Especially in "Sitting Valley", he has been the Japanese national team coach three times so far. Participated as a coach in the Paralympic Athens and Beijing Games. Deputy Director of the Kobe Social Welfare Council, Sports Promotion Center for Persons with Disabilities.

Broadcast / Radio Kansai "Let's live with Goro Tani laughing" August 10, 2021 OA
Interviewer / Goro Tani, Mari Tanabe

* The posted information is as of August 25, 2021.