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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

STAND by your team

NPO STAND, a non-profit organization run by a team under the management of Kazuko Ito, does live webcasts of paralympian sports events. The whys and wherefores are most interesting.

Yukari Shiroshita and Kazuko Ito have long been friends. Yukari was and is a member of Best Brothers, Kanazawa's powerchair soccer team. Ito's public relations company, Pastel Labo, headquarters in Kanazawa, the capital city of Ishikawa Prefecture on the Sea of Japan. That year, Best Brothers were in the regional finals, to be held in Osaka, a three-hour drive away.

Yutaka Yoneyama starred on the Best Brothers team, but he had bad news about the Osaka trip. "I won't be going," he said.

"If you have financial problems," Ito said, "I'll lend you the money."

"It's not finances," he replied, and fell silent for a moment. Then he added, "My doctor says I can't go."

Ito felt so bad about Yoneyama staying in Kanazawa by himself while the rest of the team went to Osaka that she decided to webcast the games with mobile telephone cameras. Later she found out that Yoneyama donned his uniform and sat in front of his PC to watch the games and lend his fighting spirit to the team.

Her eyes mist up as she relates how STAND got started. "Once we did the webcast, we had to do it again the next year," she said. "Word spread. I began to get phone calls from other disability athletes. They wanted their games webcast, too. I'd been footing the bills all myself, which I couldn't continue to do indefinitely. So I organized NPO STAND, using an English word to mean 'independence.'"

Kazuko Ito

Kazuko Ito with wheelchair tennis players
and sports writer Seijun Ninomiya
at a charity auction sponsored by STAND
and the Japan Paralympic Association.

Besides powerchair soccer, STAND and its Mobichoo (a combination of MOBI-le and chukei, or live broadcast, in Japanese) webcast wheelchair tennis, athletics, ice sledge hockey, and other sports events as they occur. Many of these events can be viewed at the STAND site. Check out the Athlete's Village site STAND runs.
And the Ice Sledge Hockey site, too.

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