Vicsport goes international with visit from Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Metropolitan Government delegate Mr. Kenta Ueno, a Senior Manager with the Tokyo 2020 Bureau of Olympic and Paralympic Games, recently met with Vicsport and Sport and Recreation Victoria (SRV) during a trip to Australia.
The purpose of the meeting was to help deliver an overall assessment of how sport is delivered in Victoria while giving Tokyo an international perspective on getting more Japanese citizens active and playing recreational sport.
“I heard that Australians tend to be very active and a lot of citizens participate in sports activities in daily life,” Mr. Ueno said.
“I wanted to learn how your national government, local government and other relevant organisations encourage citizens to participate in sport.
“I saw that Vicsport plays a significant role in the development of grassroots sports in Victoria and I thought that we in Tokyo and Japan could learn a lot from your experiences.”
As a member of the Tokyo Organising Committee for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Mr. Ueno’s research tour saw him explore ideas to build the legacy of hosting the Games.
He focused on securing facilities to participate, encouraging more people to participate with an emphasis on women, girls, young people and people with a disability as well as keeping stadiums and facilities viable at the conclusion of the Games as Victoria successfully achieved following the 2006 Commonwealth Games.
“I was initially contacted by Mr. Ueno via email,” said Anthony Bowd, Vicsport Manager – Strategic Projects.
“Given Melbourne’s reputation as the ‘Greatest Sporting City’, Mr. Ueno wanted to meet with key organisations responsible for enabling and promoting participation in sport as they look to build their own participation legacy.”
During the meeting, the contrasts between how sport is delivered in Australia and Japan became evident.
Australians enjoy community sport and utilise a vast array of volunteers to keep those organisations running. In Victoria we have approximately 980,000 volunteers across 16,000 sporting clubs facilitating participation of 3.2 million people.
Conversely, Japanese citizens participate in sport predominately through the school and university system and at the elite level but with minimal physical activity in the intervening years and with less reliance on volunteers dedicating their time to community sport.
“We value community sport and use it as a way to connect as a society,” said Vicsport CEO, Lisa Hasker.
“Sport is a vehicle for inclusion by bringing together people with different backgrounds or people with a disability, for example. When we are connected through sport, we are stronger.”
Mr. Ueno took inspiration from programs such as Access All Abilities (AAA Play) which provides Australia’s only first-point-of call service connecting people with a disability to sports and recreational opportunities in Victoria, the Welcoming Sport initiative that helps State Sporting Associations increase participation among underrepresented groups and Change our Game, levelling the playing field for women and girls in sport and recreation.
However, it was not just Mr. Ueno who gained valuable information from the meeting. Vicsport, SRV and Visit Victoria were able to understand the challenges Tokyo face in finding sport and recreational space to manage a population of 38 million (13 million more than the whole of Australia) in an area comparable to the size of ACT.
“From our meeting, Mr. Ueno got a good understanding of how sport is delivered in Victoria, the importance of events not just for the economy but in engaging volunteers and building a participation legacy,” said Bowd.
“It was also a great learning tool for us and gave us some food for thought on how to manage Victoria’s strong desire to participate in sport whilst meeting the needs of an ever-growing population.”