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Yohei Sasakawa
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HEROs AWARD 2019 Given to Japan Inclusive Football Federation [2020/02/07]
The Nippon Foundation has conferred the third HEROs AWARD on the Japan Inclusive Football Federation (JIFF) in recognition of its activities to aim for an inclusive society through promoting soccer for players with disabilities.

At a ceremony held at a Tokyo hotel late last year, I presented the award to JIFF President Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, a former Japan national soccer team member, in the presence of about 130 current and former athletes, among them Mr. Yasuhiro Yamashita, a judo gold medalist at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and now president of the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC).

Mr. Kitazawa said the award gave players with disabilities, some of whom were present at the ceremony, a strong motivation to play soccer. With the Olympic and Paralympic games to be held in Tokyo this summer, he said: “The year of 2020 will provide a great opportunity to create a happy society through sports.” JIFF supports seven associations of soccer players with disabilities, aiming for an inclusive society.

The annual HEROs AWARD recognizes both current and former athletes and their organizations for accelerating efforts to solve various social problems through promoting sports.

The HEROs initiative, launched in October 2017, is a social innovation project that seeks to use the expertise, experience, and human resource networks developed by The Nippon Foundation through its social contribution activities to harness the power of sports in order to give children hopes and dreams for the future and create a better society for the next generation.

HEROs2.jpgPresenting the HEROs AWARD 2019 trophy to former Japan national soccer team member Tsuyoshi Kitazawa, president of the Japan Inclusive Football Federation (JIFF), in a ceremony at a Tokyo hotel on December 9, 2019.

Posing with about 130 current or former athletes who participated in the ceremony. The men wore black-tie formal wear, while the women were clad in long dresses or traditional kimono.