After two weeks of seemingly non-stop practice, that particular Saturday in late May dawned warm and clear as students, teachers, and parents began to arrive for Katoh Elementary School’s 40th anniversary year sports day.
The program of events changes little each year and includes most of the classics popular in Japanese sports days throughout the country. There were the exciting individual dashes for every child in the school, with coloured sleeve ribbons for those who placed. There were the relay events involving small teams carrying a long bar or a huge daruma doll around a short course, as well as an event that required tossing beanbags into an elevated basket. Then there was the obligatory tug-of-war with parents joining in.
The highlight for the grade 6 school leaders was the cheering competition where they competed to out-sing, out-dance, and out-perform the opposing team. This year’s overall winners were the red team, but there were so many examples of perseverance and good sportsmanship from all taking part that everyone was a winner! — GEOFF PARMENTER