PE teachers head to
Tokyo for Japan Sports Forum

From judo and sumo to rugby and baseball, 10 New Zealand physical education teachers will learn about modern and traditional Japanese sports when they head to Tokyo on 19 May for the Japan Sports Forum, run by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Three of the teachers participating in the Foundation's Japan Sports Forum talk about their hopes and expectations from the trip

Three of the teachers participating in the Foundation's Japan Sports Forum talk about their hopes and expectations from the trip.

“The Japan Sports Forum is designed to help physical education teachers grow their awareness and knowledge of the culture, traditions and society in Japan, so they are better equipped to teach their students about the country,” says the Foundation’s education adviser Yasheeka Bertram, who will be leading the trip.

Japan will be in the spotlight for New Zealand students over the next few years as it hosts four major sporting events: the 2019 Rugby World Cup (RWC), the 2020 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympics, and the 2021 World Masters Games.

“We hope teachers incorporate the insights gained from the Tokyo trip into their lesson plans in relation to upcoming sports events, which will give students a deeper understanding of the sporting culture in Japan,” Bertram says.

The teachers going to Japan were selected from schools across New Zealand. The participating teachers are:

  • Joel Baker, Cambridge High School, Waikato
  • Leesa Bathgate, South Otago High School, Balclutha
  • Greg Burne, Lynfield College, Auckland
  • Kerryn Dawson, Edgewater College, Auckland
  • Ben Hancock, Wesley College, Auckland
  • Jonny Hewson, St Bernard’s College, Lower Hutt
  • Robyn Hickley, Otago Girls High School, Dunedin
  • Leigh Morgan, Otahuhu College, Auckland
  • Coralie Morrison, Samuel Marsden Whitby, Porirua
  • Gus Shirley, Waimea College, Nelson

 The week-long programme includes a visit to the Kodokan Judo Institute – the home of judo. The group will also attend a lecture on health and physical education in Japan at the Nippon Sports Science university. They will meet with Tokyo-based New Zealander Mike Bellingham who will talk about what goes into organising global sporting events such as the RWC. Teachers will also visit Japanese schools and learn how their Japanese counterparts teach sport.

“I feel I have an obligation to help prepare my students to succeed in the 21st century – and Asia will be increasingly relevant to their future,” says Leigh Morgan of Otahuhu College in Auckland. “That’s why it is important to increase their exposure to Asia-related content.”

Leesa talks about going to Japan and what she hopes to get from the trip

Wesley College has a strong history in rugby, winning more national titles than any other school in New Zealand.  Ben Hancock of Wesley College in Auckland says that while Japanese sport has many differences to New Zealand sport, there are similarities like our shared passion for rugby.

“It is areas like the approach to preparation that I think would add value to what we do here in New Zealand, and I believe this opportunity to share between the two cultures is one of the most valuable outcomes from this interaction,” says Ben.

 The Asia New Zealand Foundation is the country’s leading non-profit, non-partisan organisation focussed on equipping New Zealanders to be confident and engaged in Asia by enabling deeper connections, awareness and knowledge.


Coralie Morrison, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School, Whitby, Porirua

“There are so many reasons trips like this are important. Not just for a personal level but professionally it’s going to widen my horizons and hopefully that will be imparted on to my students.”

Leesa Bathgate, health and physical education teacher, South Otago High School

“I hope to get out of the trip new connections with people in Japan, especially in the schools we visit.

"I hope to just immerse myself in the culture and to be able to learn some of their customs, some of their culture, some of their history and then to come back be able to teach that to my students and help them to become passionate about travel and passionate about hopefully Japan as well.”