Former WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup winner Ayako Rokkaku backs Baseball5 in Japan

Former WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup winner Ayako Rokkaku backs Baseball5 in Japan
The fast-pace makes the urban version of baseball/softball entertaining to play and watch, and "it can improve the image of the game," says the World Cup winner.

Ayako Rokkaku, a four-time WBSC Women's Baseball World Cup winner with the Madonna Japan National Team, and is now a certified WBSC Baseball5 instructor who is trying to develop the five-on-five Youth Olympic discipline in her native Japan, where baseball is built into the culture.

Rokkaku became familiar with the game in early 2019. The fast-pace of Baseball5 immediately made an impact on her.

"The average game time is 20 minutes," she told the local press. "The batter tosses a ball and slaps it with the hand. There are almost no missed attempts. Since the batter has to put the ball in play through a grounder, the game keeps moving."

According to Ayako Rokkaku, Baseball5 is a lot of fun.

"Playing it is really a lot of fun. I like the fact that fly balls are outs. The game is also very much entertaining for those who watch."

Baseball5 has a lot of potential, WBSC leaders are witnessing.

"All you need is a ball," added Ayako Rokkaku. "It's like soccer. You don't need to make it official or have an umpire. Friends can get together anywhere and play. You don't need a dedicated venue. Everybody can play, even those who are not familiar with baseball or softball."

Rokkaku introduced Baseball5 in the Junior High School she attended in the city of Hitachi, where she was born. The game is now part of the school's Physical Education classes.

"The fact anyone can put the ball in play with his/her hand makes it a perfect fit in schools."

According to Ayako Rokkaku, Baseball5 can change the perception of baseball/softball in Japan.

"Baseball is Japan's national sport and has a history that dates back to the early twentieth century. It is also a game that is considered difficult to perform. Baseball5 is a mixed-gender urban discipline. It can help introduce young people to baseball and softball. If you get started with Baseball5 [at a young age] in school, it can be more likely that you become a baseball or softball player."

Baseball5 is set to make its Youth Olympic Games debut in 2026, following the postponement of the Dakar 2022 edition.