Cross-cultural spiking as girls line up for Okinawa volleyball festival
Kadena High School serves against Kyuyo High School at the Okinawan-American Friendship Volleball Festival at Kadena Air Base, Oct. 12, 2013.
Stars and Stripes
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Twelve girls volleyball teams from Okinawan and American schools met last weekend for the 3rd Annual Okinawan-American Friendship Volleyball Festival at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa.
“Besides playing them, I think hanging out with them afterwards is really fun.” said Sara Frazier, a player from Kadena High School.” They ask you a lot of random questions and a lot of people don’t understand what they’re saying, but they don’t understand what you’re saying and you still become friends,”
Although American volleyball is played seasonally, Japanese volleyball is played year-round.
Event organizers laid out specific rules to help the Okinawan and American teams meld their two different styles of volleyball — such as when the ball can be touched, player substitutions and time outs.
“I feel like I’m going to learn new things today, like the player’s strong sides,” said Stephanie Asato, a player with Kyuyo High School. Asato, who has only been playing for the past three months, giggled that she was looking forward to learning how to take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses.
Different playing techniques, as well as cultural differences, highlight the importance of these international tournaments, explained Yoshinari Onaga, chairman of the Okinawa Volleyball Association.
“Okinawan kids, even though they learn English, they don’t really get to use the language skills. With this festival, they can learn how to communicate,” said Onaga. “[American and Okinawan students] don’t have a lot of friendships even though they’re living right next to each other, so this is something that can create that opportunity.”