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Nearly 100 Japanese come to Misawa for international soccer, basketball competition

By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan (Oct. 06, 2000) -- Nearly 100 Japanese from Kazuno in the Akita Prefecture came to Misawa Sunday to compete in or watch soccer and basketball games with American athletes from the Misawa Air Base community.

The Japanese teams consisted of high school, junior high school and adult athletes. Nearly 60 American athletes, consisting of junior high, high school and adult athletes competed as well.

The event was organized by Robert Cabral, the Navy varsity soccer coach.

"This has been going on for about two years now," said Cabral. "We go [to Kazuno] in the spring, they come here in the fall."

The some 160 participants gathered at the high school parking lot around 10:30 a.m. Sunday. From there, they got down to business and participated in a full day of truly international competition.

The event is as much about a cultural exchange as it is about the games of soccer and basketball.

"When they come to our base here they get a little taste of America," said Cabral. "When we visit their city, we get a little taste of Japan."

Because the game is so popular, there are plans to continue with the exchange.

"The kids want us to do this all the time, and adults want us to keep doing this on a regular basis," said Cabral. "We've already been invited to go back in the spring, the [Japanese] want us to bring a baseball team to play their junior high team."