By Ottawa Sportspage, for Tumblers Gymnastics Centre
There is a once-in-a-lifetime experience brewing for the young gymnasts at Tumblers Gymnastics Centre.
This July, Tumblers had the privilege to welcome Mr. Masakiyo Minoru, a renowned coach from Japan who visited for 5 days to get the lay of the land and setup an exchange program for next summer.
In August 2020, Minoru will bring some of his athletes to be billeted by Tumblers families for close to 2 weeks. In 2021, they’ll return the favour and host Tumblers athletes in Japan.
“It’s very, very exciting,” says Tumblers Recreation Manager Connie Groom. “Gymnastics is worldwide, but athletes oftentimes don’t get outside of their own country, so it’ll be pretty cool for our kids to travel somewhere other than Cornwall or Toronto.
“I don’t know many other gyms that do these kind of exchanges. It’s a life experience that they probably otherwise wouldn’t get.”
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Groom helped facilitate an international exchange years ago and believes the participants “will remember it for the rest of their lives.”
“I’m dating myself here, but now those athletes who did it, they’re coming back with their kids, and they still talk about it,” she smiles.
The opportunity for the exchange came about through a Japan-born local florist who contacted Tumblers to signal Minoru’s interest in the exchange. She felt Tumblers’ focus on community and family would be a good match for their foreign friend, which was confirmed quickly upon his arrival.
“Our philosophy on how we coach our kids here is right in line with how he coaches his children and athletes,” Groom details. “It’s about their personal development. It’s not about me needing to prove anything. I’m here for my athletes and helping them achieve their goals and dreams.
“It’s disciplined, but not too disciplined. We’re caring, but we have an expectation. Respect is very important. Respect for the sport, respect for their peers, respect for their coaches. They’re not here just teaching kids gymnastics, they’re helping them to be the future leaders.”
Minoru’s recent visit already provided an opportunity for all to learn from one another. An experienced coach for over 10,000 artistic gymnasts throughout his career (including an Olympic medallist and another World Champion), Minoru has run the MOVE Gymnastics Club for 15 years. Though MOVE counts over 2,100 members in Osaka and Kyoto, their spaces are fairly small and equipment needs to be pulled out and put away each time it’s used.
Seeing a facility like Tumblers’ was eye-opening, Minoru shared, as was the club’s wide range of programs from babies to competitive, and multiple disciplines such as trampoline, parkour, and acro for dance and cheer.
There is sure to be great gymnastics gains from the exchange, but the chance to share cultures and live life experiences is sure to provide an even larger lasting impact, indicates Groom, whose club sent a pile of Tumblers gear back home with Minoru for his athletes.
“You know, they basically have to look after these kids who are going to stay with them,” Groom notes. “And they’ll have to find ways to communicate without speaking the same language, and not get frustrated. But you know what? Sport is a universal language, really.
“I can’t wait. This is just such a phenomenal opportunity for everyone involved. It’s something I hope we can keep going for many years.”