Student Blog

International Experience for Children through Flag Football, a New Olympic Sport!

4min read

Have you heard of the sport gaining attention in recent years called "Flag Football"? It's one of the sports officially decided as an Olympic event starting from the 2028 Los Angeles Games.

Adding Flag Football to the Olympics was just decided last October.

Flag Football is a non-contact version of American football, where players replace tackles by removing the flags attached to their opponents' waists. Beyond physical prowess, this sport involves strategizing with teammates, analyzing the opponent's attack, and fosters not only physical strength but also critical thinking and communication skills. As a result, it has become widely popular, from recreational activities to competitions in schools in recent years.

Did you know that there's a Flag Football circle at APU? This time, we interviewed Tanaka Chikara, who serves as the representative of the "APU Flag Football Circle."

Name: Tanaka Chikara
Hometown: Kyoto, Japan
Major: College of Asia Pacific Studies, 4th Year
Hobbies: Exercise, reading, talking with people

Why did you decide to start the Flag Football Circle?

I've always loved sports and played American football in middle and high school. Although I was seriously involved and it was one of my favorite sports, I was not fond of the tackling aspect in American football (laughs). That's when I became interested in Flag Football, which replaces those aggressive tackles with grabbing the "flag" attached to the opponent's waist. The idea that I could make tackles safer while retaining elements I loved from American football was very appealing (laughs). However, APU didn't have a Flag Football circle. So, I thought, "Why not start it myself?" (laughs).

With flag football members

Challenges faced in establishing the circle?

It was challenging because we started during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I couldn't go to the university, so I didn't know anything about the facilities. Even after I could go to the university, it was difficult to gather people. However, by actively promoting our activities through social media like Instagram, conducting welcome events, and benefiting from word of mouth from those who actually came to practice, the circle's presence expanded, leading to where we are now. With more members, the quality of our practices improved, and having other members who could take the lead besides me greatly enhanced the overall team.

The number of members has increased so that we can do various activities! (at a Halloween event)

Main activities?

We usually practice about twice a week for upcoming tournaments. Additionally, we conduct classroom activities, where every Saturday, we open a class at Beppu Arena for elementary school children to learn both English and Flag Football!

Why combine English and Flag Football?

It comes from my personal experience. When I studied abroad in Australia during high school, I had difficulty making friends, and it was a lonely experience. However, when I received praise from teammates for a good play during a physical education class, I noticed that sports, especially those I was good at like American football, helped me make friends without using language. At that time, I felt that sports could transcend language barriers. That's why I want to create an environment where children who may not speak English perfectly can communicate actively without fear of mistakes, connect through sports, and become friends with international students!

At the children's flag football class. We want to convey the joy of connecting with the ball without using language.

Tanaka's Future Goals:

Firstly, winning the Kyushu District Tournament of the Flag Football Japan Championship. I'll do my best to demonstrate the results of our regular practices on the big day! We are the only team in Oita Prefecture, so we represent Oita Prefecture! The Kyushu District Tournament will be held on February 25, 2024, at APU's main ground! Please cheer for us!

Click here for Instagram of APU's Flag Football team, “HIGHLANDERS”.

Through this interview with Tanaka-san, I was deeply moved by not only the allure of Flag Football but also by his strong passion for sports. After reading this article, if you've developed even a slight interest in Flag Football, I highly encourage you to attend the tournaments held at APU!

Yukina Kiyosue
Yukina Kiyosue

I am Yukina Kiyosue, a 3rd year student in the College of International Management (APM) who loves comedy! I commute to APU from the Kunitachi Peninsula, which is rich in nature. I decided to start writing because I was motivated by this university, where there are many people who are willing to try new things and who can seriously devote themselves to something. I will do my best!

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