Interview: Sugawara Kanae
INSIDE TEQBALL- STORIES FROM THE TEQBALL WORLD
Sugawara Kanae is a rising star of teqball and the Japanese player is quickly becoming an inspiration for fellow teqers across Japan. She is a role model for female players and her ambition to become a World Champion is encouraging women across Japan to take up the sport. Kanae’s background as a futsal player has built the foundations of her success in teqball, which led to her becoming the first-ever female player to compete in a World Championships in singles and doubles, in 2017, and resulted in impressive performances in all three World Championships to date. With experience now under her belt, Kanae shares how she plans to help spread teqball across Japan and become a World Champion herself.
Do you remember the first time you experienced the curved table?
I remember it clearly. When I tried playing, I found it both difficult and fun at the same time. I felt it was a sport that men and women of all ages can enjoy.
Singles or Doubles? Which one would you choose and what are your reasons?
I like doubles since I'm good at receiving and with the first touch I can pass to my partner. Also, I am confident with my ball control. Doubles can bring out the best from me.
Why do you think teqball is addictive?
By playing teqball, you can train various skills such as spatial awareness, ball touch, and decision-making. I think that playing teqball for children during the golden age, a concept introduced by the Japan Football Association in the mid-1990s focused on the period of peak physical skill development in athletes aged 9-12, will create great players in the future. Also, I participated in the 1st Teqball World Championships in 2017, and although I was the only female player in the competition, I reached the last 16 in the singles. I also got to the final 8 stage in the doubles event. Teqball’s biggest attraction is that it is a sport that men and women of all ages can enjoy! It is a sport with gender equality, as well as the ability for players of all ages to compete. The youngest player at the 2019 Teqball World Championships was 10 years old and the oldest player was 50 years old.
Do you have a favourite teqball player, or someone who you found impressive for their talent?
I like team Hungary, team Romania, and team Brazil. I have loved team Hungary and team Romania since the 1st Teqball World Championships in 2017. Team Brazil cannot be overlooked due to the high agility and skill of Marquinhos and Natalia. My favourite player in these teams is Zsanett Janicsek. I like her playing style, I respect her attitude and approach towards teqball, and I always get inspired by her. I think of her during practices.
If you could steal one skill or movement from them, what would that be?
I would like to learn from Zsanett Janicsek’s ability of receiving, her speed of returning to position after a receive and her judgment as well. I also want to learn Natalia’s smash!
What has teqball changed in your life?
I am a civil servant who usually works at the public office. However, since I became the representative of teqball Japan, I am juggling between my usual a work and being an athlete. But I have no regrets and I am very happy with my life. Also, the reason I decided to be the teqball representative from Japan is that I am not afraid to "challenge" women, as I believe that no matter how old you are, if there is something you want to do, you should challenge yourself to do it! I want to encourage other women! These strong feelings are behind my decision. Women often end up giving up what they want to do due to the responsibilities of marriage and childbirth. I challenged for the Japanese national team of teqball at the age of 27, which is not young as an athlete. There is an urge inside me to encourage women who see me fighting to live a life without regret, without being afraid of challenges. Of course, the goal is to achieve results at the World Championships! At the same time, I want to be a player who gives courage, energy and smiles to the women of the world.
Please name a sportsmen/ woman that you would nominate to be a future teqball ambassador.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi!
During practice, is there any special rule you apply to make the game more difficult? Do you have any own rules during the work out?
Since Japan has a small number of players, we practice by having our opponents throw the ball out by hand.
How has the spread of COVID-19 and the pandemic situation changed your everyday sport life?
Japan, which is an island country, has suffered less damage compared to other countries. However, if the public's awareness becomes low, a cluster may occur, so everyone is highly conscious of this. I also think it is important to consider what could be done for the people around us and act with great care. The days when I couldn't practice due to coronavirus continued for a while. Self-isolation regulations have been lifted, but I am still only able to practice less than half as much compared to my usual schedule.
What is your goal for 2020 in teqball?
If there is a women’s singles category in the 2020 Teqball World Championships, then I want to stand on the podium. If there is women's doubles, I want to win. I want to win the mixed doubles as well.
Thank you for the interview and good luck with all your endeavours with teqball!