translated and edited by Brett Larner
Kyushu-based Kagoshima Bank announced on Mar. 27 that it will begin sponsoring a new professional women's track and field team beginning in April. The new Team Kagoshima Ginko's starting lineup will feature six athletes aged 18-29, four who graduated from high school in March and two experienced professional runners. Kagoshima Bank director Fumiharu Nagata told members of the press, "We want to do our part to help support talented athletes who wish to remain in their hometowns after graduating from high school and to help strengthen the local sports world."
Team Kagoshima Ginko's head coach will be Yoshinobu Uchida, a man with experience guiding long distance athletes since his student days. Uchida will be assisted by Natsuko Tatesako, while Kenji Arimura, a former captain of Kagoshima Tsugyo High School's track and field team, has been named program director. Team members attending the press conference included Momoe Niita and Miho Imamura. The coaching staff's stated goal in its first season is to qualify the team for October's Kyushu Jitsugyodan Women's Ekiden.
The bank's athletes will have to work regular hours like the other employees, with practice sessions scheduled in the morning and evening each day before and after work. Arimura commented, "We'll have a bit of a handicap with regard to how much time we have available for training, but we're going to do everything we can to inspire the people of Kagoshima Prefecture." Nagata also revealed that the team has also looked at recruiting athletes from the imminently-disbanding Team Oki, but, he said, "We want the team to have runners from Kagoshima Prefecture at its core, so we declined to hire them."
Translator's note: Team Kagoshima Ginko will be the second new jitsugyodan women's team to start up in Kyushu next month, joining the previously-announced Team Canon Materials Oita in counterbalancing the loss of Team Oki.