Sasebo (Japan) Naval Base Youth Sports Wins 2009 Excellence in Youth Sports Award


The Sasebo Morale, Welfare & Recreation Department runs the Sasebo Naval Base's youth sports programs under a simple yet meaningful philosophy: The "want" to play is always more important than the "how" to play.
With several year-round activities for kids to choose from, Sasebo Youth Sports certainly lives up to that philosophy, one of the many reasons why it earned the prestigious Excellence in Youth Sports Award in 2009. Children ages 5 to 17 learn fundamental skills and have fun in a noncompetitive environment by participating in such sports as baseball, basketball, flag football, soccer, cheerleading and swimming.
"We believe that by offering positive challenges in a superlative, safe and adult-supervised environment, our youth can thrive," says Jacqueline Patterson, youth sports director for Sasebo Youth Sports. "This is achieved by creating a wide array of opportunities for youth to participate in organized recreational, social, educational, developmental and physical activities."
Children ages 3 to 5 enjoy Start Smart Sports Development Programs (a gross-motor-skills program developed by NAYS), and all coaches are trained through the National Youth Sports Coaches Association. Along with running youth leagues on its own base, Sasebo Youth Sports works closely with the nearby Iwakuni Marine Base and other local Japanese communities to stage competitions.
Programs are anchored by Sasebo's strict sportsmanship policy, to which all players, coaches, parents and administrators must adhere. On the first day of practice, coaches review the meaning of good sportsmanship with players, and at the end of each game, both teams congratulate each other and thank the officials. Additionally, coaches recognize players who have exhibited superior sportsmanship during each contest.
Along with its sports programs, Sasebo Youth Sports offers children a variety of recreational activities throughout the year. In 2009, children participated in a 3K Family Fun Run in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a cheerleading clinic featuring the Minnesota Vikings cheerleaders, a Fourth of July Frisbee golf event on a "Lilo & Stitch"-themed course, and family physical education nights. A junior officials program teaches teenagers 16 and older how to officiate games, keep score and become positive role models for younger children.
"With an emphasis on participation, our unique programs appeal to all ages, skill levels and interests," Patterson says. "Our hope is that through these opportunities, all of our youth will be inspired and driven to physically and mentally better themselves."

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