Junk 5 win inaugural Japanese Baseball5 Championship

Junk 5 win inaugural Japanese Baseball5 Championship
Yokohama Hayato High School A won the Youth Division. The Yokohama Budokan hosted the two eight-team tournaments sponsored by Samurai Japan.

Junk 5 and Yokohama Hayato High School A are the first-ever Japanese Baseball5 champions. Junk 5 won the adult division, while Hayato High School won the Youth tournament.

The Yokohama Budokan hosted the two eight-team tournaments on Sunday, 4 February. The event was sponsored by the men's baseball No. 1 team in the world Samurai Japan, who are the current Olympic and Premier12 champions.

Kenta Wakamatsu, who coached the Japanese National Team at the inaugural WBSC Baseball5 World Cup and introduced Baseball5 as a curricular activity at Oberlin University in Tokyo, managed Junk5.

"I am half happy and half relieved since we had practiced so much," he commented, "I am most happy that we were able to prove Junk's organizational and human strengths, as well as the quality of the Baseball5 environment that Junk5 has been creating. Being the first champion makes me emotional. This will stay with me forever."

Baseball5 has made giant steps in Japan.

"My memory goes back to the showcase during the Tokyo 2021 Olympics and Paralympics and the Japan National Team selection for the Asia Cup 2022", Wakamatsu commented. "The number of teams has increased considerably, and the recognition has certainly increased. After winning the silver medal in Mexico in November 2022, the number of events, courtesy visits, and trial sessions centred on the players who represented Japan at that time increased dramatically, so I think that recognition has increased even more."

He added: "The teams (5STARs and Junk5) that the national players belong to have world-class skills and experience. The team level is getting higher, and everyone said that the championship favourites were 5STARs and Junk. But when you look at it on a big scale, if other teams don't raise their level, it won't raise the level of Japan as a whole. I think this is a challenge."

Wakamatsu acknowledged the importance of international competition: "Thanks to the World Cups, many players say, ' I want to be a member of the Japanese national team!
They are motivated and even create new teams because there is a place to aim for. I am very grateful to the WBSC. Thank you very much."