CEBU CITY, Philippines — Masaya Suzuki brought his love for softball from Japan all the way to Cebu in a quest to help young Cebuanos learn more about the sport and its benefits.
Suzuki used to play softball at the Kokushikan University in Japan, where he majored in Asian Studies. Before that, he played softball in his younger years at Toyakawa High School.
Softball is a sport that is an offshoot of baseball, but with a larger ball on a field that has base lengths of 60 feet, a pitcher’s mound that ranges from 35 to 43 feet away from home plate, and a home run fence that is 220–300 feet away from home plate, depending on the type of softball being played.
It is played competitively at club levels, the college level, and the professional level.
Suzuki played cleanup hitter or center field when he played for his prefecture’s team in Aichi.
When Suzuki studied for some time as an exchange student in Thailand, he also played softball at Chulalongkorn University.
Now, the 28-year-old Japanese National has been living in Mandaue City for the last three years, working in an ESL company.
Recently, he has partnered with the Abellanosa National High School to coach a softball team in Cebu City.
Suzuki said that because softball has provided him a chance for education, he wanted to share the sport with young Cebuanos so they, too, can have a chance to get into the major universities in the country.
“Since I was not active as a player anymore, I was not thinking about going back to softball. I thought it was my time to help give something to the community. If they (student athletes) play well, they can get into the best universities,” he told CDN Digital.
Suzuki initially reached out to the Philippine’s own softball star, Cheska Almonte, who became a bridge for him to meet the softball community in the country.
Eventually, he met the coaches of the Abellana National High School in Cebu City and he now serves as an assistant coach for the city’s softball team.
They are currently forming a team of youngsters to train for the sport in the hopes of launching the sport into popularity in Cebu.
“Since I have a full-time job, I can only coach on Saturdays. I think they (students) have good potential. I think Filipinos have this natural power,” said the softball coach.
Suzuki is aware that softball is a sport that needs a lot of equipment, and these are not cheap. So on his next return to Japan, he hopes to get donations to be able to help come up with the equipment needed.
The softball coach is hoping young Cebuanos can try softball and feel the benefits it can bring to them.
“I hope through the sport, they learn the discipline. Discipline equals freedom,” said Suzuki.