Missionary Athletes International (MAI), has been taking soccer teams to Japan for the past 20 years. Through the years we have taken both men’s & women’s college age teams but recently with the Japanese Women’s National team winning the World Cup 5 years ago, the request is for us to bring women’s teams. Soccer has become the second most popular sport in Japan behind baseball. As a result of the ongoing “relationship” with MAI’s LA office (The Seahorse Soccer Club), several Japanese University teams have come to spend time in the USA, playing against local University & the Seahorse teams. The experience is a short-term missions trip using the sport of soccer and partnering with local churches to gain access to audiences that would otherwise not be accessible by those pastors. Less than 1% of the Japanese people claim to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. By bridging the gap through relationship first, we gain the trust to present the gospel.
To read about past Japan tours, check out this blog!
Japan Tour Director: Paul Gizzi
Paul Gizzi was born & raised in Japan til age 14. His parents were missionaries there. He speaks Japanese & has led MAI’s efforts in Japan for all 20 years. Paul was a goalkeeper at Biola University and then spent four years in the NASL playing for the Seattle Sounders and the San Jose Earthquakes. Since that time he spent 12 years in education as a soccer coach, Athletic Director and Principal in Northern California. Most recently he has been the director of the Seahorse ministries for the past 25 years. He was the Head Women’s and goalkeeper coach as well as the men’s keeper coach for Biola University during those 25 years.
His goal is not only to reach the Japanese with the message of Jesus, but to make the experience one of personal transformation for the participants.
Our Japanese Champions: Masa & Chie Yokota
Masa and Chie Yokota (Missionaries & Director of Seahorse International Soccer Club) are graduates of Grace College & Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. While studying there he met Chie & played soccer for the University where he landed All-American honors. He was introduced to Paul Gizzi & accompanied the Seahorses on 4 tours before feeling called to start a similar ministry in his hometown of Osaka, Japan. Masa & Chie have two young children, Joe & Jen. They are faith support based & their information can be found on the Mai website. They have 50 children in the Japan Seahorse Academy and two years ago brought the first group of players & parents to LA to minister to them in the way the USA Seahorses came to Japan. In Japan they too partner with the local church & use soccer & English as the ways to attract students to the academy.
2017 JAPAN OUTREACH | WOMEN'S OPEN TOUR | JULY 5 - 21
Where: Iwakuni, Iwata, and Osaka Japan
When: July 5 - July 21, 2017
The Seahorses will be working with a local churches and the Seahorse International Soccer Club (a youth soccer academy) in the Osaka area. Soccer matches, clinics, social activities, and engaging relationally are ways we will interact and reach the Japanese youth. The team will then move south to Iwakuni where they will play additional matches and host a soccer camp for US military kids on the base.
Want to learn more about this tour? Check out these previous Japan Tour Blogs!