Kuratsu Keita-san (24) visited the preschool in the Prefecture Shizuoka School for the Deaf in Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture, his alma mater, for the first time in 20 years early in December.
"Who want to hang down from Kuratsu-san's arm?"
The kindergartners raised the hand eagerly to the teacher's question. When Kratsu-san presented the brawny arm, the children stuck it and raised a cheer. He smiled and said to the children, "Eat a lot and do your best with a dream."
Kuratsu-san, who was born deaf, uses a hearing-aid and does lipreading. He attended the class for hard of hearing children in public elementary and junior high schools in the city. He was on the baseball team in the junior high school. As soon as he was admitted to the private high school in the city, he became attracted to rugby football at once.
Kuratsu-san felt his heart trembled with the sound of a tackle, etc., and told his parents that he would play rugby football. They didn't accept it, saying, "It is a dangerous sport, and it may hurt you." At the end, they allowed him as he promised "to play only for three years."
Unlike baseball, a player does not always stand in the same place. Since playing rugby football wasn't safe, the hearing-aid was removed, and communication in the team was more difficult beyond anticipation.
The obstacle awaited him even not playing. When the meeting with the head coach was held after practice, he heard the practice time of the next day. When he went to the ground in the morning the next day, nobody was there. He missed to hear that the practice would be in the afternoon.
Kuratsu-san said, "I remember I was scolded by the head coach. He told me to come out more positively. I would not be who I am now if the incident did not hit me."
Then he came out more eagerly. He invented a sign used during the game as the head coach's advice, and his communication with the teammates became more possible. He won a regular post and also participated in the nationwide competition.
He is currently on two rugby teams; one is a team for adults, and another is a Deaf Rugby Japan all-star team. He was a captain of the Deaf Rugby team which competed against Australia at the international game, the first game held in Japan in November, 2011.
"If I didn't ever play rugby football, I might have been bashful. I accepted my disability and now have self-confidence. His future goal is to win one victory for the Japan team in the Deaf Rugby international match.
"I would like to show that a person with disability can play sports. For that purpose, I want to become stronger."