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Top>People>Lessons from a late-blooming literary figure


Mr. Kenny Matsumura

Mr. Kenny Matsumura [Profile]

Searching for a sport nobody plays, I came across cricket

Mr. Kenny Matsumura
Counselor for NPO Japan Cricket Association

Having the world's second largest number of active players, it practically unknown in Japan

A positive and, what's more, perverse man. This is the impression of Japan Cricket Association Counselor, Kenichiro Matsumura. Matsumura entered Chuo University hoping to do "something incredibly interesting at university."

"At the time, all-round circles where you could enjoy sports such as tennis and skiing were at their peak."

Like those students, he had the same motive to enjoy campus life, but his method was different. He wanted to play a sport no one else was playing. There were nine others with the same "ambition," and they started to think about what they could do.

"We buried our heads into encyclopedias in the library and stumbled across cricket. A sport played mainly among countries from the British Commonwealth, cricket has the second largest number of active players after football, and has even been holding a World Cup since 1975. But it is hardly known in Japan. On top of that, Chuo University's predecessor was the English Law School. It was like 'This is it!'"

We didn't know the rules and equipment was hard to come by

It wasn't easy setting up the Chuo University Cricket Club. Even though they knew that baseball was modeled from it, they didn't understand the rules and couldn't get equipment. So they approached some Indians and Pakistanis working in Japan, and the British Embassy.

"I contacted people working in Japan and got them to teach me various things. Through that, I finally put together a 100 page handmade rulebook."

Matsumura's efforts to construct a rulebook in Japanese by hand were reported in local English newspapers. He put just as much effort into obtaining equipment.

"I managed to get a set through the British Embassy, but I only got three wickets when I needed six. I bought the materials for the remainder and made them myself."

Call it the "hardships of pioneers." While solving various problems, Matsumura and company started playing cricket by the Tama River in Fuchu City.

Spending half the week travelling around the country teaching cricket to children

Starting with English, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, and Pakistanis gradually gathered around Matsumura's group while they were enjoying cricket. Naturally, their teams became opponents, and aided in honing the skills of Matsumura's team.

"Other universities also started up cricket clubs. Now Waseda and Keio etc., and women's university, University of the Sacred Heart, have cricket clubs, and hold an annual university tournament."

On top of being perverse, Matsumura is positive, and has a temperament that won't settle for anything that isn't tackled in a positive manner. In 2001 the "Japan Cricket Association" became a non-profit organization, and after serving as managing director, Matsumura now acts as an adviser.

"I have a big goal. First I want to expand the cricket base in Japan. At the moment there are about 10 primary school teams in the country, enough to hold a national tournament. But cricket is still a minor sport in Japan. So, in order to teach cricket to the children, I spend half the week travelling around the country."

Women's representative team captures bronze at the Asian Games after a 20 year wait

Kenichiro Matsumura at the "Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival" where top-class players from the world over gather (August 2010, Harrogate, England)

Now Japan has gained results in an international competition.

"The women's team has been steadily gaining strength. Last November, at the Asian Games held in Guangzhou, China, cricket became an official event, and the women's team not only participated, but won the bronze medal. They had been waiting 20 years for this, but because this team contained a current Chuo student and one graduate, my excitement doubled. The next goal for the women's team is to reach the knockout round of this year's Cricket World Cup in Bangladesh. Cricket will also become an official event at the 2020 Olympics, so our dream continues!"

The all round Matsumura has received several accolades. In 2008 he became the youngest (41) and 33rd person worldwide, as well as being the first Japanese to receive the Lifetime Service Award from the International Cricket Council. In 2009, he was selected as the only Japanese among the "1000 international figures" of the century for his achievements. Also, being invited to the Queen Elizabeth Birthday Party in Japan and a reception for former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a visit to Japan probably says it all.

"More than those, what pleases me is making friends all over the world through cricket."

This Matsumura, when he was 27, was invited to the "Golden Oldies World Cricket Festival", a biennial tournament where over-40 year old elite professionals and amateurs gather.

"I thought "Why me? I'm in my 20s," but my Australian friend had said "We should invite Kenny (Matsumura's nickname among his cricketing mates)."

Since then, every two years, he has been participating in the tournament around the world as a Japanese representative, and at the 2008 tournament, Matsumura finally reached the eligible age. Last August, he played in the festival held in Harrogate England, enjoying cricket with his friends from all over the world.

Offered by: Chuo Daigaku Gakuin Jiho No. 467

Mr. Kenny Matsumura
Born in Tokyo in 1967.After graduating from the Faculty of Law, Chuo University in 1993, he established and was appointed representative of the Japan Cricket Association (NPO). While working as the second president of a real estate agency, taking over from his father, he travels around the country promoting cricket as adviser for the association. In 2008, he became the youngest and 33rd person in the world, as well as the first Japanese to receive the Lifetime Service Award from the International Cricket Council. In 2009, he was selected as the only Japanese among the "1000 international figures" of the century for his achievements in cricket. He is married with one daughter.
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