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System to support kids of single parents in Japan to play baseball set to start

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks' Nobuhiro Matsuda, fourth from left, and other players from the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization's 12 teams gather at a regular Japan Professional Baseball Players Association union meeting in Osaka's Chuo Ward, on Dec. 5, 2019. (Mainichi/Kenji Denda)

OSAKA -- The Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (JPBPA) decided on Dec. 5 to launch a system to support elementary school children of single-parent families to play baseball.

Under the program, which was agreed on during a general assembly held in the western Japan city of Osaka, the JPBPA will provide children in fourth to sixth grades with gloves, cleats and bats, and also cover monthly costs spent on activities related to baseball. The program will be put into place as part of efforts to promote the sport.

The association will start the application process from 2020 and select 12 third graders who have not been playing baseball on a full scale in that year. Such support will be provided to the 12 children from 2021 -- when they will become fourth graders -- until they graduate from elementary school.

During the general meeting, Japanese professional baseball player Nobuhiro Matsuda of the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks was selected as JPBPA's new chairman, in place of Yohei Oshima of the Chunichi Dragons, who served for two terms spanning four years.

"I want to keep a watchful eye on an environment in which children can continue to play baseball," Matsuda stated.

In addition, the JPBPA regular union meeting passed a resolution the same day urging the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization and its 12 teams to introduce a draft for professional players. The system would be aimed at giving ballplayers who find themselves riding the bench more often than not the chance at increased playing time with a different club by creating a mechanism for more player movement among the teams.

(Japanese original by Yuka Nakamura, Tokyo Sports News Department, and Kenji Denda, Osaka Sports News Department)

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