JICA 27-1 Ryosuke Oba – Alii. I have been assigned to Palau National Olympic Committee and Palau Baseball Federation to make a further development of Palauan baseball since July 2015. Hard to believe I have spent two years in Palau. Time passes very very fast. When I got here at the beginning, I was confused by different languages, customs and culture. But now I have got used to daily life in Palau and there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes even I feel that I’m like Palauan.

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I have learnt a lot of things in Palau. I would not have realized all the things I have learnt if I had still stayed in Japan.

Life, culture, climate, it would be endless to count what I learned. Above all, what made me surprised most is baseball in Palau.

I had played baseball in Japan for a long time. It’s not too much to say I have been grown up by Japanese baseball. From the point of view of a Japan made baseball man, to be honest, I was so shocked when I saw Asahi field for the first time. There was a lot of trash on the field, stand and even in dugouts. In addition, unnecessary weeds covered infield as if no one had been using the field for a long time. Furthermore, there was no equipment for field maintenance such as “Tombo.” I had never seen such a dirty baseball field with no maintenance before in my life.  To clean up and keep the field maintained after every practice or game is compulsory and common sense in Japan.  Everyone knows it. However, that does not work here in Palau. I finally realized that this is the so-called “cultural difference.” At the same time, I was proud of baseball style in Japan.

I believe a disciplined manner can make a person properly mature. In the case of baseball, if we can make a habit of doing Tombo as field maintenance, it will be possible for us to practice with the field in a good condition. We can be mentally tough so as never to easily give up if we are determined to keep maintaining the field every time. I further believe we could learn a spirit of respect by taking care of not only the field, but also the equipment we use for baseball. For example, we could come to realize that we cannot play baseball without a baseball field and equipment so it makes sense that we have to respect and be gentle to them. In a similar logic, we cannot play baseball without our teammates, coaches and even families who support us. Once realizing the importance of all the above-mentioned things, what we can do as baseball men is to show respect and appreciation to them. I believe doing field maintenance with Tombo would be an opportunity to think about all the things.  Doing maintenance with Tombo is not labor. That is also part of baseball practice. I’d like to keep telling players that field maintenance is good practice for being a mature person as well as a good baseball player.

Palauan baseball also reminded me of why I started baseball. As far as I see, Palauan people always enjoy playing baseball from the bottom of their heart. This is what I had almost forgotten when I played in Japan.  Playing baseball with friends is simply fun. There is nothing happier than sharing the moment with teammates.  In fact, when I played in Japan, I was forced to feel like “I have to keep good results” or “My senior teammates would scold me for my attitudes and behaviors.” This kind of feeling often happened in Japan because Japanese baseball is so competitive and somehow disciplined too much. Needless to say, we cannot play for just seeking fun. That is a selfish attitude. But we cannot perform our 100% without being enjoying playing. Even at some games in Palau, I found some players all of a sudden perform better than I had expected. I believe that happens because they never forget enjoying playing baseball and it brings them to a higher level.

This is what I have never achieved in Japan.  Because I found this an important point, I am confident to say that I spent valuable 2 years here in Palau.  I really appreciate all the kindness my colleagues and teammates gave me. I would like to take back this unforgettable experience to Japan and hope to contribute to the development of Japanese baseball. And one day, I am looking forward to watching a game between team Palau VS Team Japan at the World Baseball Classic. Thank you so much. [/restrict]