The workshop, which was held at Wellington’s ASB Centre, started off with a Japanese lunch where the team got to test out their chopstick skills. They then got down to the serious, and at times not so serious, task of learning about Japanese culture and picking up some basic language skills from teacher (sensei) Daiji Kataoka.
Team captain Matthew Bertschinger says none of the team have been to Japan before and the workshop helped alleviate some nerves.
“[It was great] seeing some of the Japanese culture and then just having a good time with mates, but also learning about what we can do over there and what we can’t do…and knowing how we should behave. So just making the experience better for us and those hosting us over there.”
The workshop concluded with Narukami Taiko group introducing the team to taiko drumming. After a brief discussion of the role taiko plays in Japanese culture and a demonstration from the experts, the sticks (bachi) were handed over to the floorball players, who quickly found their rhythm. By the end of the session they had mastered a complex piece involving a number of rhythm changes.
The Foundation’s director of culture, Jennifer King, says the workshops are designed to help young sports teams travel to Asia with a more sophisticated understanding of the culture they will be experiencing.
“This will make them better ambassadors for New Zealand and more receptive to absorbing new ideas”.
She says making the workshop fun was key to its success.
“Given the age of the audience, we wanted to make it all as lively and interesting as possible. The highlight was the energetic taiko drumming at the end of the session, when Narukami Taiko members taught the entire team how to play the drums like professionals."
The workshop was part of a new initiative to include sport as part of the Foundation’s culture programme.
The Foundation’s executive director Simon Draper says because sport is an integral part of New Zealand culture, it seems logical to use sport to help New Zealanders engage with other cultures.
“Sport is the lens through which many New Zealanders view the world, so it can be an important asset in helping Kiwis feel comfortable and confident interacting with Asia.”
For more information about Pre-departure Cultural Competency Workshops, contact director of sports Kirsty Sharp.