SINGAPORE: Japan was once an Asian bowling powerhouse, but its reputation has declined in recent times.
So it’s now looking to strike up a partnership with Singapore to lift the sport, especially at the junior level.
Twelve Japanese students, age between 12 and 17 years old, arrived in Singapore as part of a Japan International Exchange programme.
And some of them have already topped their age groups at the national level.
Now they want fresh ideas and are on a three—day trip to Singapore to study its expertise in consistently grooming world champions.
The exchange programme includes a competition against the National Youth bowlers and a trip to the Singapore Sports School Bowling Academy.
Mr Tomokatsu Yamashita, a coaching staff of Japan Bowling Congress, said: "We don’t have that kind of school in Japan. No bowling school like that. They have to know what the Singaporeans bowlers do, the training and learn for sport."
The visit has put a few of them in a different frame of mind and they’re keen to study at the Singapore Sports School and hone their bowling skills.
Ms Mitsuki Okamoto, a bowler in the Japanese Youth Team, said: "I am very happy to watch the high level of bowling in this first trip to Singapore."
There are also plans to organise a more serious competition when the keglers return next year.
The partnership will benefit Singapore too, as the sport enjoys a large following and corporate sponsorship in Japan.
Mr Mervyn Foo, Technical Director of Singapore Bowling Federation, said: "They have a very huge professional league over there and we want to tap on their expertise on that. So with this collaboration we will not only (invite) them to come over but for our players to go over and compete in Japan."
Besides the development of sports, such collaboration would also help to boost cultural exchange and tourism.
The Singapore Bowling Federation is looking beyond Japan to have similar tie—ups with countries including South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia, among others.
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