TOMODACHI – U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Program Wraps Successful Los Angeles Programming

The TOMODACHI – U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Sports Leadership Program wrapped up the first portion of programming in the United States with an evening reception in Los Angeles, marking another milestone in the collaborative efforts to foster leadership in the sports industry among Japanese youth. Hosted by the U.S.-Japan Council, this two-week program commenced its first leg in Los Angeles, from February 27 to March 5, before moving to New York for the second week, ending on March 12. The program culminated in final presentations back in Tokyo on March 15. 

This program aims to increase the understanding and knowledge of the sports industry in the United States, with a focus on facility management, community engagement and business of sports management among Japanese youth. The goal of the program is to encourage participants to be global leaders in their respective fields and utilize their knowledge acquired in the United States to advance the sports industry in Japan and promote the importance of collaboration between the two countries. 

The week-long program in Los Angeles was made possible through the partnership with LA84 Foundation, whose support and resources were integral to the success of the event. Delegates had the opportunity to visit prominent sports venues including the Riviera Country Club, LA Memorial Coliseum, BMO Stadium, SoFi Stadium and Arena, where they gained invaluable insights into facility management and operations. Beyond exploring the world of sports, delegates also engaged in educational sessions on the history and cultural significance of sports in Los Angeles. From attending a UCLA class on race and sports to visiting the Japanese American National Museum to learn about the Japanese American incarceration experience, participants gained a holistic understanding of the intersection between sports and society.

One particularly poignant moment during the program was after visiting the Japanese American National Museum, a delegate mentioned how they saw baseball being played in the camps and that even in times of despair and hardship, highlighted the role of sports in providing hope and resilience, even in times of adversity. This sentiment underscored the universal appeal and unifying power of sports, transcending boundaries and fostering connections across communities.

The program included distinguished guests, including Olympic athletes and USJC Associates Maia and Alex Shibutani (ShibSibs), who shared their experiences and insights with the delegates earlier in the day on a panel on Sports Leadership facilitated by USJC Board Member Joshua Morey (The J. Morey Company, ELP ‘16). Additionally Zack Slusser, Vice President of Team USA Breaking, provided valuable and timely insights as Breaking makes its debut on the  Olympic stage in Paris for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Another special guest in attendance was Deputy Consul General AOSHIMA Naoshige of the Consulate-General of Japan in Los Angeles, who provided remarks highlighting the significance of initiatives like the TOMODACHI – U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Sports Leadership Program in fostering collaboration and understanding between Japan and the United States. His attendance was especially poignant given the program’s roots as a legacy initiative from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, aimed at equipping the next generation of sports leaders with the skills and experiences needed to drive positive change in their communities. 

In closing, Board of Councilors Member Jennifer Hirano, daughter of Irene Hirano Inouye, joined the event to provide closing remarks encouraging the delegates to be the next leaders and to continue to connect with each other and build bridges and connections. 

The TOMODACHI – U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Sports Leadership Program stands as a testament to the power of collaboration and cross-cultural exchange in advancing the field of sports management and leadership. As delegates prepare to continue their journey in New York and eventually return to Japan, they carry with them valuable insights, connections, and experiences that will shape their future endeavors and contribute to the global sports community.

For more information about the TOMODACHI – U.S. Embassy Go for Gold Sports Leadership Program, click here. Photos can be viewed here