The Hiroshima Dragonflies’ Initiative to Promote Peace in Cooperation With UN Agencies
The Hiroshima Dragonflies are a member of B.League, a professional men’s basketball league in Japan. As Hiroshima’s sole professional basketball team, they are committed to promoting peace. In April 2022, the Hiroshima Dragonflies signed a memorandum of cooperation with the UN agency, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
Let us hear more from their president, Ura Nobuyoshi, about the team’s current activities, the significance/expectations of their cooperation with the rising UNITAR Hiroshima Office, and their goals.
The Hiroshima Dragonflies believe that there are sports because of peace and there is peace because of sports, working to preserve Hiroshima’s uniqueness as a place where peace is cherished. “Basketball has over 500 million players worldwide, boasting the most number of players. Despite this, it remains a minor sport in Japan. We were thinking about what we should do to make professional basketball teams valuable and needed in society and what we should do specifically as a team in the international peace city of Hiroshima. There, we decided to take on the challenge of achieving the SDGs to contribute to society,” says Ura.
Specifically, their Landscape Connected by Basketball Project gives the Orizuru Award to players who visit schools, hold basketball classes, participate in community events, and engage in fair play during games sponsored by local companies. They also collaborated with other B.League teams and posted a video message for peace from the players on the team’s official Twitter page, as well as made paper cranes as donations to the Peace Memorial Park and Orizuru Tower.
While carrying out initiatives driven by the keywords “sports and peace,” they met UNITAR, a United Nations agency that provides training to individuals and organizations that work with society at various levels, including national and regional. UNITAR only has one office in Japan, and it is in Hiroshima.
”UNITAR’s Hiroshima Office works to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) mainly through training programs for people in developing countries. It has contributed to building a peaceful and just society through programs for people in countries amid post-conflict reconstruction, such as Afghanistan, incorporating Hiroshima’s journey from the atomic bombing to its current state as a model for reconstruction. In their daily activities, they believe that sports have the power to aid reconstruction.”
In April 2022, both parties signed a memorandum of cooperation to help fulfill the SDGs, aiming to contribute to society by taking full advantage of their strengths. They plan to collaborate on four areas: building peace through sports, sustainable development, reducing disparities and inequalities, and supporting women and youth.
The signing ceremony of the memorandum of cooperation (provided by the UNITAR Hiroshima Office)
”UNITAR is ambitiously working toward achieving the SDGs through training programs as well as partnerships and collaborations with local communities. We have also focused on the role of sports in promoting peace and development, sparked by our invitation and training of Afghanistan’s women’s national soccer team (2015-2016). We are very pleased and honored to conclude a memorandum of cooperation with the Hiroshima Dragonflies, who not only lead the sports world of Hiroshima as a professional basketball team but also continue to take various approaches to enliven the community and build a better society together,” says Kumamoto Mihoko, director of UNITAR’s Hiroshima office, with high hopes for the power of sports to overcome divisions, connect people, and give hope.
Although the collaboration has just begun, Ura has already participated as a guest at the final presentation of the Hiroshima Youth Ambassador Program (a training project of UNITAR) in August. Junior and senior high school students from Hiroshima walked around the city, finding issues from the perspective of the SDGs, and gave commentaries on the ideal urban development plans they discovered. The players competing in the 2022-23 season, which began in October, also wore uniforms with the UNITAR logo.
”If our collaboration with UNITAR allows us to share our worldwide network, experience in human resource development, business support, and reconstruction assistance, we have the potential to bring our unique Hiroshima approach to a global level,” says Ura. They also plan to hold an event to think about peace in summer when Atomic Bomb Day and the war’s end are celebrated. “The B.League is in its off-season, so all players and staff can work together. I believe our collaboration has the power to create events transcending competitions and countries.”
People are more likely to pay attention to the movements of sports teams and players close to their communities. We hope this collaboration will once again demonstrate the power of sports and become a new approach to pursuing peace. Expectations are high for the future activities of UNITAR and the Hiroshima Dragonflies.
Hiroshima Dragonflies Corporation
2-15-17 2F, Kusatsu-Shinmachi, Nishi-ku, Hiroshima City
United Nations UNITAR Hiroshima Office
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