Interview with Takumi Kawahara, Sport for Tomorrow ( Part I, 2nd Part will be published on the 4th of September)

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SPORT FOR TOMORROW is an international contribution through sport initiative jointly implemented by public and private sectors, which promotes sport to more than 10 million people in over 100 nations until 2020, the year when Tokyo will host the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. For more information

Mr. Kawahara is Director, Secretariat of Sport For Tomorrow Consortium, Dept. of Information & International Relations, Japan Sport Council that hosts the secretariat of the Consortium. Mr. Kawahara has considerable overseas development experience as he has been working for many years, under different capacities, with JICA, the official  japenese overseas aid agency. He has been working in conflict prevention and resolution in Mindanao, Philippines as JICA Capacity Building for Community Development in Conflict-Affected Areas in 2012 and 2013; he worked with Asia Development Bank (ADB) Project for Institutional Capacity Building Roadmap in Federated States of Micronesia 2004 – 2006 and from 2000 to 2003 in a JICA Rural Electrification Project in Vanuatu

Could you explain about th origin, structure and existing goveranance of Sport for Tomorrow Consortium, SFT?

The concept of SFT was announced by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the IOC Session 2013 on the occasion of Tokyo making a bid for 2020 Games. SFT aims at sharing the values of sport and spread Olympic and Paralympic movement. The numerical target is to reach more than 10 million people in over 100 countries. As of March 2018, 6.6 million people have been reached directly or indirectly in 202 countries /regions. SFT movement is based upon a public-private partnership so that it is not just done by the government of Japan. Basically each organization carries out projects and activities based upon their own budget and mission and visions. The Japanese government covers the cost of the secretariat and some projects, but there is no system such as a subsidy for consortium members organizations.

In order to drive and accelerate the movement, Sport For Tomorrow Consortium (SFTC) was established in August 2014. The Chairman is Japan Sports Agency (JSA, Japan Sports Agency is a central government agency under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT),  the Vice-Chair is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The steering committee of SFTC consists of 14 organizations. Currently there are more than 400 organizations as consortium members, while it was around 40 organizations as members at the initial stage in 2014.  SFTC consists of NFs, universities, private sectors, local governments, and NGO / NPO organizations. As a feature, it is composed of organizations related to sports, and organizations related to international cooperation and exchange. This is a unique platform.

It is difficult for only one organization to conduct an international cooperation and exchange project including activities entirely. Therefore, as a secretariat, we try to activate members’ activities by increasing members, by coordinating as well as matching among organizations in Japan and with overseas organizations. Then, the organizations will be able to share their resources, and will gradually increase and expand their activities.  This is our strategy.

In addition, the SFT consortium features a network of sports organizations and organizations of international cooperation and exchange. The organizations of international cooperation and exchange deal with sports as means to overcome social issues. In this way, we believe that by combining organizations with different strengths, there are possibilities that projects and activities that we were not able to do so far will be newly started and expanded.

The governmental organizations and relevant agencies on public side have some programmes under SFT, such as JICA volunteer regarding sports and physical education. Even though they need partners and organizations that provide human resources as well as know-how.

Japan Sport Council (JSC) is undertaking the role of SFTC secretariat. The secretariat has two major functions:  

1) to manage and coordinate SFTC including activating consortium members for their activities, public relations and output compilation, and

2)  to implement some projects and activities of international collaboration directly as JSC.

I joined the secretariat, as a director, in August 2014 when SFTC was established. Initially I also planned and managed individual projects or activities by myself, but today I do not manage individual projects directly. My main role is supervision of staffs, management of overall activities of the secretariat, and coordination with Japan Sports Agency and overseas organizations.

You have considerable working experience in the developing world, especially in the Pacific region. How your work in the Philippine, Vanuatu, FSM shapes your daily responsibilities at Sport For Tomorrow?

Before joining SFTC secretariat, I was involved in many projects in overseas, especially in ASEAN and pacific counties. I experienced from the glass roots level to the policy level, and I have various experiences such as consultation with beneficiaries, local counterparts and related organizations. I was also in charge of consultation with clients.In addition, I worked for a consulting company as a manager in Japan. I experienced discussions and negotiations with clients. I did designing and evaluating projects, too. Throughout these experiences, I was always thinking about what to do as Japan or perspectives from outside. Such experiences are utilized in the current works.

As Director, Secretariat of Sport For Tomorrow Consortium based at Japan Sport Council, what are your major functions and responsibilities?

The secretariat has two main roles.

1) to manage and coordinate SFTC including activities for consortium members to be more activated, public relations and output compilation, and

2) to implement some projects and activities of international collaboration as JSC.

PR and output summarization are also important roles for the management and coordination of SFTC. We are operating these roles with 11 staff including myself. So, I do not currently own myself in charge of one task. I am in charge of overall management and assist our staffs, discussing with Japanese government including JSA and steering committee members on how to proceed throughout SFTC toward 2020 and beyond.

First of all, let’s start getting more into the details, asking you to describe the components of Sport For Tomorrow initiative. People might think that it is just about sport clinics around the world but actually the initiative is much broader and deeper. Could you tell us more about it?

SFT has three objectives:

1. Promoting sport and improving international competitiveness,

2. Changing the world through the power of sport (peace and development)

3. Making sport a multi-cultural exchange

Projects and activities towards these goals are implemented under SFT, and by the end of March 2018 a total of 4,002 individual projects and activities have been carried out.  There various kinds of projects and activities such as clinics, provision of sporting equipment and facilities, strengthening skills for leaders and judges, supporting school physical education curriculum, cultural exchange projects through sports.  JICA volunteers and assistance by Japanese embassies related to sports in various countries are also under SFT.

Each organization carries out projects and activities according to their mission and vision. If these are along with the objectives of SFT, it is part of SFT. So, the secretariat never controls. The secretariat compiles data based on the report submitted by each organization.

For more details, please see the attached SFT report. Sports related projects supported by JICA volunteers and embassies of the Japanese government are not listed in this report. However, these are also part of SFT.

If you could describe Sport For Tomorrow initiative with one or two words or adjectives, what would you say? If you ask me, I would say “partnership and bold” What’s about you?

As already mentioned, SFT is a movement and is carried out by various organizations that are consortium members. In such circumstances, choosing 1 or 2 words is very difficult.

I try to answer this question, it would be "connected". This means that the world and Japan will be connected, people will be connected, even connected in Japan.

Sport For Tomorrow can be truly considered a trailblazer, a real innovation in the way to link a mega event like the Olympic Games with people all over the world. How was it conceived? How long did it take to build the coalition or consortium as you call it, of all organizations involved and supporting it?

Sports for Tomorrow began at the bid race of the Olympic and Paralympic Games while SFT has no direct relationship with the Olympics and the Paralympic Games.  However, the most important thing is that Japan as a whole including relevant organizations will continue international cooperation and exchange through sports after 2020.  I hope such a long term vision and value will be held and shared by more organizations.  SFT is just the beginning.  I am trying to emphasize this from the time the consortium began.

The shape of the current SFT ends in 2020. Although the Japanese government is currently implementing budgetary measures in various ways, some will continue even after 2020. For example, JICA volunteers have a long history before the SFT starting, and will continue even after 2020. Other members' activities will also continue after 2020.

The consortium members were about 40 organizations in 2014, but over 400 in August 2018. Not all members are active. About half do activities directly and indirectly.  This means there is still room for further revitalization. By doing various activities of international cooperation and exchange through sport by 2020, I believe that organizations will continue even after 2020.

Could you tell us more about the NSSU-ICCU Coach Developer Programe?

NSSU-ICCU is to develop talented coach developers. Please visit their HP, then you could find out more information. You could inquire at NSSU about the ICCU program.

As multidimensional program, Sport For Tomorrow has a very innovative partnership with leaning institutions. For Example, could explain the partnership with Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies (TIAS) at the University of Tsukuba in Japan?

Tsukuba University is also a member of Steering Committee of SFT Consortium. Our staffs, SFTC Secretariat, are frequently communicating with staffs from TIAS, while there is no special partnership.Academy, in other words, Human resource development is an important field under SFT. In this regards, TIAS is a representative programme of this field.  TIAS, NSSU-NCDA, and NIFISA are supported by our government thorough Sports Agency.

Please visit the URL below for more information about TIAS.


Do you think that Sport For Tomorrow can really enhance the competitive levels of athletes from developing/emerging countries?  What are your minimum goals on this regards?

The minimum goals are not set. However, I believe that projects and activities under SFT is to enhance the competitive level of athletes from developing/emerging countries. These are some examples. JSC is collaborating with JOC to invite foreign athletes. Some of them are from developing / emerging countries as well. Also, you might be aware that there some JICA volunteers who are coaches for national team. Among them, some volunteers are accompanying to Asian Games.

The second part will be published on 4th of September.



Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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