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Softball Japan coach: National Team roster could change next year for Tokyo 2020 Olympics

Softball Japan coach: National Team roster could change next year for Tokyo 2020 Olympics
29/07/2020
The Japanese women’s softball head coach Reika Utsugi stated that the national team will return to training in November, after the end of the Japan Softball League season.

During the presentation of the Japanese national softball team new uniforms, head coach Reika Utsugi and team leader Shinsuke Yabata talked about how the Japanese squad will prepare to retain the Olympic gold medal next year. After the announcement of the Tokyo 2020 new competition schedule 12 days ago, Japan has established a plan for the next months.

“All the preparation we have made over the past three years has returned to a blank slate,” said the 57-yer-old head coach (pictured), a two-time Olympic medallist as a player. “The fifteen Olympic members who would have been picked for 2020 could change now with the postponement to 2021. Yes, if the players change and the training change, so will the tactics. Even if we prepare for three years, we cannot fight the same way one year later. It's not so simple. It starts all over again."

Utsugi said she feels a "heavy pressure" to capture gold on home soil next year. She has also made it clear that with regards to the roster, she has already turned her eyes to the "future" and looks forward to the new one-year preparation period.

Yabata gave more details about the future training activities of the second highest ranked team in the WBSC World Rankings. Regarding the Japan National Team candidates, he stated: “We will strengthen the designated players, which are currently narrowed down to 20, and carry out the training process. We plan to narrow it down by March 2021 in the end.”

The team leader also explained the training process for the next months. "The first half of the Japanese league season was cancelled due to the influence of the coronavirus, but the second half is scheduled to start in September, so the Japanese [national team] candidates will play for their respective clubs until November. After the final of the tournament, three domestic training camps will be held from mid-November until the end of the year, and then overseas training camps will be held in January and February in the United States and Australia.”