Ms.Mayumi Kobayashi

Respect for the sport with a rich history that changed my life

Together with her teammembers
Together with her teammembers

Tell us about the biggest impression that international sport events have made on you.

I remember being asked “Are you enjoying yourself?” when I was in a softball competition in Australia. Most of the foreign athletes have fun while still being good at their sport. The way that they prioritize having fun left a big impression on me. The way we play in competition might not look like we are having fun.

There were also the hesitance towards using English and nervousness about competing overseas during the event, but when other players greeted us with “Ohayou” , we were encouraged to try to be more friendly towards others. I am really grateful to them for teaching me the importance of interacting with other teams.

What did you discover about other countries through playing softball in an international setting?

I managed to get some insight into each country’s history. For example, people in Malaysia above a certain age have very little opportunity to play softball and softball grounds are scarce over there. It made me realize that the culture of enjoying softball at all ages does not exist everywhere.
I also realized that there are countries where sportswomen are a rarity. I think the foundation for the continuation of lifelong sports in a country is very important for the development of team sports.

Were there difficulties faced by women’s softball teams in Japan?

(Left) In the contest of「Sammy Japan Masters Cup」organized by herself
 (Right) Together with participants of the Summy Japan Members Cup
(Left) In the contest of「Sammy Japan Masters Cup」organized by herself
(Right) Together with participants of the Summy Japan Members Cup
During my childhood in Hokkaido, in my hometown, young rural girls were not encouraged to play sport. When I started working while attending high school, I chose a company where I could play softball, and thanks to that I was able to continue doing this sport.
Certainly, there was a time when it was difficult for women in Japan to do sports as well. At that time, there were only male managers and umpires.
In order to revitalize softball by organizing a weekday league for female athletes, I got the qualifications for becoming a judge. The first Women's National Softball Championship was held in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture by Japan Softball Association, and Japan's female judges were gathered there. I was one of the memebers of one of the phases, and finally, Japan's first Women's National Softball Championship judged by female referee was successfully held. After 30 years of hard work by various people and facing all sorts of of challenges, I think Japan already has established the foundation for the development of softball.

What kind of message would you like to deliver to women who want to continue doing sports?

By all means go ahead if you want to. There may be trouble getting your family or others to support you, but I don’t think that means you should give up.
I believe having teammates and a healthy body helps you to have a healthy mindset and cultivates a heart that listens to voices around you in every situation. I hope people will have respect for sport because it provides the foundation of the right mental attitude, and together we can make a society that allows anyone to participate in sports.
There is just one more thing that I would like to say. I had met many international friends who play the same sport through WMG. I have had a great deal of support through this event, and that is why I want to do my best to support teams participating in 「WORLD MASTERS GAMES (WMG) 2021 KANSAI」.
I also look forward to meeting softball lovers from all over the world in Shiga Prefecture, the venue for the softball competition.