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    1. [ Main contents start here ]

      Power to Inspire Story

      The Real Stories of Athletes Always Challenging Themselves

      Vol.4 Jamie Joseph

      Keep trying all the more in tough times

      Jamie Joseph
      Jamie Joseph

       (Professional rugby coach)

      At the fundamental level, sports provides an entertaining way for people to compete against each other in physical one-upmanship. But sports can also have a deeper impact, providing opportunities for personal growth and social transformation. Athletes have more than just fun on their minds as they entertain spectators with their physical feats; they also have broader goals and visions they hope to achieve through sports.

      The professional rugby coach Jamie Joseph brought a great joy throughout Japan in 2019. His skills to put together "ONE TEAM," half of which consists of players from foreign countries, and to lead the team to a breakthrough gathered attention from all over the world. This great coach who accomplished the big goal has already begun running to the "next" goal.
      Jamie Joseph
      It is important to understand each other, instead of bearing each other

      The award ceremony of the "Laureus World Sports Award" was held in Berlin on February 17, 2020. Nelson Mandela, the late president of South Africa said that "sport has the power to change the world" which is the philosophy of Laureus. It is an organization to address social issues like violence and poverty through the power of sports and engage in activities to better transform the world. It supports more than 160 programs in more than 40 countries and regions, while it gathers athletes, legends and sports organizations from around the world once a year to present "Laureus World Sports Award" to commend individuals and organizations that actively participated during the year.

      The Japan National Rugby Team was nominated for the "2020 World Breakthrough of the Year" to be presented to players and organizations that had a significant breakthrough, but they unfortunately did not win the award. The honorable commander surrounded by legends of the sports community seemed to have felt much pride for just being a candidate for this prestigious award.

      "During Christmas in 2019, Mr. Sean Fitzpatrick, the chairman of Laureus Academy and my superior at All Blacks, called me to explain about Laureus’ activities. Activities to contribute to society through sports including rugby are very common in New Zealand. I thought Laureus’ activities were wonderful and said to him that I wanted to participate in the award ceremony by all means. I believe that my role being invited to this award ceremony as a representative of Japan is to spread the message in Japan."

      Jamie wonderfully put together the Japan National Team, the majority of which consists of players from foreign countries, under the philosophy of "ONE TEAM" which also became trendy words in Japan. The team is beyond the wall of nationality and language as if it embodied the spirit of Laureus to try to eliminate discrimination and violence with the power of sports.

      "Strength of a team with many races is coexistence of many different cultures that enhance each other. When it comes together beyond differences to become ONE TEAM, a significant power will be born. It is important to understand each other, instead of bearing with each other. It may have been difficult for Japanese players to accept foreign teammates who cannot understand the language. At the same time, living in Japan in a different culture is not easy for foreign players. Many foreign players live away from their own families. The distance from family creates loneliness that might lead to a tough mental state. Therefore, I asked Japanese players and staff to be "hospitable" to foreign players and staff. First, the Japanese side opens their hearts and welcomes them. This will help the foreign side to try to understand Japanese people. This creates bonding between foreign players and Japanese players, which is the origin of ONE TEAM. Making the team as one through sports like rugby regardless of nationalities may be a very modern concept in Japan. My message might have been penetrated because they are in a young generation born in the 1990s."

      He says that the historical leap was supported by not only players but because the whole Japan became ONE TEAM.

      "Right before the game with Scotland, typhoons caused a lot of damages. I felt responsible for showing a strong performance as a representative of Japan at such time as this. The game on that day could not have been accomplished by players only. Many people cheered enthusiastically, including staff and families as well as all the supporters, which must have created a strong power to be united as the whole Japan. "Sport Unites Us" is one of the keywords of Laureus, and I totally felt that way at that time."
      Jamie Joseph
      Life is like a rugby game

      While Jamie was an active member of All Blacks, he also joined a Japanese team and was on the national team. Such experience might have been utilized for team building. He is very tall, 196cm high, always with a mild expression. His speech occasionally incorporates Japanese, suggesting his inner intelligence.

      "Rugby taught me many things. All of my family played sports such as softball, basketball and rugby. My sisters and cousins all enjoyed playing sports. We never grew up in a wealthy environment, but the heart to constantly challenge and not to give up was developed through sports. Life is like a rugby game. There are times when I can be at my best, and I may be suffering at other times. I want to maintain high-quality play and the power of focus for 80 minutes, but it is not easy. However, I should proactively enjoy challenging myself at such difficult times so that I don’t have any regrets. Sports like rugby trained me with the spiritual power to think that way."

      He has already begun running to the "next" goal.

      "There is not much time left for the Japan National Team until the next tournament. Many people became superstars in the sports community in Japan. However, it is so easy for them not to be the national team when they lose the sense of advancement and run out of the power to focus, which will inevitably lower the level of team members. The pool of players is not very big in Japan in comparison to teams in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere. Top players need to maintain their high level, and there is no room to wait until young players grow up. Japan rugby needs to challenge further level advancement; however it is not easy. Water boils at 100℃ but not at 99℃. The real potential is demonstrated when 100% power is utilized. I remind myself of showing model behavior at all times and being a true leader to motivate the players."

      There is no destination in sports. You defeat yourself and defeat your opponent, then another fight with yourself begins. Only people who can sustain such challenging spirit are able to win the fame. Athletes with strong bodies and spirits have the potential to create major sensation and to change society and the world. We hope to continue cheering up Jamie who and Japan’s National Rugby Team are aiming further into the future.
      Jamie Joseph

      Jamie Joseph

      Professional rugby coach; born in 1969 in New Zealand. Represented New Zealand as a player. After accomplishing great results on the Japan National Team, took the path as an instructor. Appointed as HC for the Japan National Team in 2016. Wonderfully put together the team of multiple nationalities and made a big breakthrough that reversed speculation. Stayed in the position as HC in Japan in spite of being approached by the head coach of All Blacks in his home country of New Zealand. Assumed leadership again, aiming for further leap in 2023.
      Words: Kosuke Kawakami Photography: Tsukuru Asada Coordinate: Florent Dabadie
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