Cuban and Japanese baseball coaches met in April in Havana and Santiago de Cuba to exchange experiences. According to Cuban national baseball commissioner Higinio Velez, the meetings were very productive
By ANTONIA DÍAZ SUSAVILA
HAVANA (9 May 2011) – Cuban and Japanese baseball coaches met in April in Havana and Santiago de Cuba to exchange experiences.
According to Cuban national baseball commissioner Higinio Velez, the meetings were very productive. “We learned new things. They are very humble, heartfelt admirers of Cuban baseball, and made it very clear that their intention was to be reciprocal,” said Velez.
Attending the meetings from Japan were Masatake Yamanaka and Atsuyoshi Otake, former coaches of the teams of the universities of Hosei and Waseda, respectively, and Shinji Inoue, former outfielder of the Giants of Yomiuri.
Yamanaka knows a lot about Cuban baseball, after being the coach of the Japanese team that took part in the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, where the Cuban team won.
Attending the meetings from Cuba were pitching, batting and defense coaches and several coaches from the elite teams that took part in the 50th Cuban National Baseball Series.
“Many people may say that the Japanese play baseball similar to us. That baseball is the same here [in Cuba], in Puerto Rico, in the United States and it is true. But each country has their secrets and they carry out their own studies,” said Velez.
Taking coals to Newcastle
Upon arriving in Cuba, the Japanese said that talking about baseball in Cuba was like taking coals to Newcastle.
However, Asian players and especially the Japanese, who were left out in the past, are now the first in the World Classic and South Korea was the Olympic Champion.
“We put special emphasis on something we think we need: concentration, persistence, perseverance and dedication. It’s not that the Cuban athletes are not dedicated, it’s that the Japanese are very selfless and we have to follow their example,” said Velez, supporting his idea speaking about the time the Japanese spend working with the pitchers and the way we do so, as well as about why they are so precise in touching balls and other plays, unlike today’s Cuban baseball players.
“The Japanese say that we are strong and very fast, unlike them, and that’s the reason why they have to work as a clock,” said the Cuban national baseball commissioner.
“We must work harder on the tenacity, persistence, concentration, and professionalism because there are some who think that a professional is only the person who earns lots of money. No, a professional is a driver, a teacher, an engineer, a doctor, a baseball player who does everything well on the field. In addition, we have to inculcate habits into our player through daily training and sacrifice, that’s the only way of reaching sports mastery,” he added.
During their visit to Cuba, the Japanese coaches also carried out important practical demonstrations on the field.
Happy with the interest and attention of their audience, the Japanese said that they learned a lot from the Cubans.
“We have the means to transmit what we learned to all our coaches. We are already doing so and we will monitor the implementation of the teachings and the trainings,” said Velez, who added that now we have to correctly apply what we learned for the Cuban people to have a better baseball.
In Cuba, the 50th national Baseball Series has just concluded with the victory of one of the great teams, Pinar del Rio.
In short, the national teams of the different categories will begin training for competitions such as a tournament in Rotterdam, Holland, from June 23 to July 7; the ALBA Games, in Venezuela, and the Challeger, in Canada, both to take place in July; the World Championships, in Panama, in September-October; and the Pan American Games, in Mexico.