Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Sports Festival

Every school in Fukui has a festival around this time of year, which
is usually composed of a "culture festival" and a "sports festival".
It's the biggest event on the school calendar, and many of the
students come in to school all through the summer holidays just to get
ready for it. Pretty much all the preparation is done without any help
whatsoever from the teachers, which is, frankly, amazing. The kids
make stalls to sell food, make costumes for a fashion show, make
decorations, construct dance routines, write plays... it's fantastic.

The whole school is split into four teams - red, white, blue and
yellow (I was on the white team) - and the teams vie for points over
the three days of the festival. During the two-day cultural festival
(more on that another time) the teams compete in a fashion show and a
singing contest, but it's only when they hit the school grounds for
the final day that the excitement really mounts...

The sports festival was definitely the highlight for me I think. The
tone of the whole event is a lot less serious than sports days in
British schools, which is surprising since at all other times the
students take sport ultra-seriously (the hockey team, for example,
practice every day, including weekends and holidays). Instead, the
sports festival is composed of events such as the three-legged race,
the tug of war, the obstacle race and the "throw balls at boys race"
(see below). One of the best races was where four students had to run
around half the track to reach a piece of paper, which gave them the
name of something they had to find and then carry across the finish
line. Cue students sprinting with chairs, netting, buckets and even
some rather surprised-looking teachers - why couldn't sports day at my
old school be like this?

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