Sports are good for the body, mind and spirit. Participating in sports boosts self-esteem, team-work and leadership skills, and provides a channel for young people to relieve stress. Five years ago, the Korean Ministry of Education launched an initiative to encourage sports club activities in schools. In support of this initiative, Donga Otsuka, an Otsuka affiliate and manufacturer of POCARI SWEAT for the Korean market, launched a tournament intended to help young people learn the twin values of sports, through playing futsal, and mental strength, to be a hero.
On May 28, 2017, the fourth annual “FUTSAL HEROES” finals tournament was held in Seoul, South Korea. The competition saw the fourteen teams that had qualified in the preliminary rounds held in Seoul, Daejeon, Daegu and Busan compete in the finals. The finals took place at the Korea Media Center in Seoul, and drew large crowds of supporters and well-wishers to enthusiastically cheer the teams on.
This year’s winning team, Banpo Middle School from Seoul, celebrate their second consecutive win of the tournament. Speaking about the competition, one student said, “In normal life, we get a lot of stress with studying. But, participating in the futsal competition was an experience. We had a great time in preparing for the games and it was fun to take part with my friends. We are so happy to win this year again!”
Four years ago, the first tournament was held between 128 middle schools in the Korean capital of Seoul. From these beginnings, the tournament has grown year on year to include more schools from across the country. Last year, middle schools from Busan were added, and this year the tournament was expanded to include schools from Daejeon and Daegu. In the past four years, futsal teams from approximately 600 schools, totaling about seven thousand young people, have participated so far. In 2018, "FUTSAL HEROES" will be held in six major cities in South Korea.
This year also marks the 30th year since POCARI SWEAT was launched in South Korea. Donga Otsuka in participation with education departments and schools, holds briefing sessions to students on the importance of hydration. POCARI SWEAT is available in 20 countries and regions across Asia and the Middle East. It is the organizers’ hope that the tournament will expand to include teams from other Asian countries as well. Their big dream is that in the future school teams will represent their nations in an international tournament. Going forward, Otsuka Pharmaceutical and its affiliates will continue to support sports at all levels and their contribution to health to all ages.