Ritsumeikan University’s Osaka Ibaraki Campus was the venue for a top class international hockey tournament from Saturday, September 8 to Sunday, September 16 - featuring the national teams of Australia, the United States, Korea and Japan.
Known as The Four Nations Women’s Hockey Ibaraki International Tournament, the competitive event was organized by the Japan Hockey Association (JHA) and Ibaraki City in support of efforts to recover from the damages of the 2018 Osaka Earthquake as well as part of the City’s activities as a Tokyo 2020 Host Town.
Ibaraki City, Ibaraki Chamber of Commerce & Industry and Ritsumeikan University teamed up to form a bidding committee to invite foreign hockey teams to stay in Ibaraki City for their pre-games training camps for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games – the result of which was the official registration of Ibaraki City as a Tokyo 2020 Pre-Games Training Camp Host Town1 on April 27, 2018.
As part of its host town activities, the Bidding Committee invited the Australian team, a candidate team that may hold their pre-games training camp in Ibaraki City.
Events were also organized to promote international exchange through hockey – including kid’s lessons and an exhibition match between the Australian Team and an All-Ibaraki Team consisting of current members of Ritsumeikan Women’s Hockey Club.
The Tournament was held as part of a series of domestic projects to strengthen athletes toward Tokyo 2020 and is the only international hockey event to be held in Japan this year. It was also the first attempt in Japan to use a university campus to host an international sports event.
A total of 4,474 visitors attended games and events, whilst 330 local children participated as escort kids.
On the field, Japan women’s national hockey team, Sakura Japan (currently ranked 14th in the world), followed on from their recent success in winning the Asian Games by winning the tournament via a 2-1 win over the Australian national team (ranked 3rd in the world) in the final. The victory marked somewhat of a watershed moment for Sakura Japan in winning a FIH2 certified international tournament for the first time ever.
Ritsumeikan University alumnae, Moe Sasaki (College of Letters 2017), Mami Ichitani (College of Social Sciences 2014) and Naho Ichitani (College of Social Sciences 2015) contributed to the victory as a members of the Japanese national team.
The Tournament was realized as a joint project of Ibaraki City, Ibaraki Chamber of Commerce & Industry, JHA and Ritsumeikan University, with the aim of promoting the development of Ibaraki City and related businesses and organizations as well as to contributing to the promotion of education and sports in the local community through collaboration among government, industry and academia. Ritsumeikan University will continue to support and promote hockey towards 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.
1 Tokyo 2020 Host Towns are municipalities registered to host athletes and visitors that visit Japan for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Host Town Initiative aims to take full advantage of this opportunity to promote human, economic and cultural exchanges with participating countries/regions and at the same time contribute to local revitalization.
2 FIH = International Hockey Federation