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Aurah Supporters Cheer for WBSC Women’s Baseball World Cup 2016 Held in Gijang, Korea

  • Enhancing the National Prestige
  • Nation | In Korea
  • Date | September 03, 2016
ⓒ 2016 WATV

The Aurah Supporters of the Church of God, which supported big and small, domestic and international sports games such as the 2002 Busan Asian Games, the 2002 Busan FESPIC Games, and the 2003 Daegu Summer Universiade in all directions, gathered once again in Gijang, Busan, Korea, for the success of the Women’s Baseball World Cup 2016 sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation [WBSC].

The Women’s Baseball World Cup is an international tournament held every two years. The inaugural game was in Edmonton, Canada, in 2004, and this year it marks its seventh event. Around 500 baseball players and the staff members from 12 countries, including Japan going for the fifth consecutive win, made it the largest event in the history of the Women’s Baseball World Cup. The baseball circles expected it would be an opportunity for women’s baseball, which was one of less popular sports, to expand its base and catch more public attention. That was why the Aurah Supporters’ help was more needed than ever.

The world cup was held from September 3 till 11 at the Gijang-Hyundai Motor Dream Ballpark located in Ilgwang-myeon, Gijang-gun, Busan. The Aurah Supporters started to work even before the opening ceremony—from the moment each national team arrived in Korea. At the arrivals halls of the Gimhae Airport and the Port of Busan, hundreds of supporters welcomed the athletes enthusiastically, chanting “We love you.” Their arrival times were all different from early in the morning until late at night, but whenever a team appeared, the supporters wore bright smiles and gave hospitality. The baseball players, who were entering Korea, tensed, soon responded with smiles, waving their hands.

ⓒ 2016 WATV

After the opening ceremony, an average of 500 Aurah Supporters cheered for two to three games every day. About 9,000 man-days, including the volunteers for the welcoming and farewell ceremonies, supported this event. Even in the ever-changing weather—windy and rainy or sunny and hot, the supporters encouraged the athletes, singing fight songs they modified in each team’s language, and cheering with balloon sticks, traditional fans, and four-colored umbrellas, from the moment the players entered the ballpark until the end of the games.

The supporters did not pay attention only to the games; their fervor continued even outside of the baseball fields. They provided Indian athletes with palatable meals and fruits, as they were having difficulties with injuries and in adjusting themselves to the new environment. They also installed a booth at a corner of the stadium and printed out commemorative pictures for them. “We were never welcomed like this at any international games. When we go back to India, we’ll boast about what a warm welcome and a great affection we’ve received,” said Ashima Begum, the Indian team doctor.

The athletes and the staff were deeply impressed with the Aurah Supporters and said it was their first time. “It’s amazing to see they cheer for all teams, not just their national team. I’ve been to many games, but it’s my first time to have such supporters,” said Michael Schmidt, the Executive Director of WBSC.

“I’ve never seen such a scene where both teams are energetically cheered up. All the players must’ve been encouraged a lot,” said Mihashi Atsushi, the President of Women’s Baseball Association of Kanto, Japan, raising his two thumbs up. At the semi final, Team Venezuela won a come-from-behind victory, while it was losing with two outs in the ninth inning. “The Aurah Supporters cheered for us as if we’re their family. It’s my first time to experience such cheers. Thanks to their untiring support, we could win,” said Ensy Lopez from the Venezuelan team, with tears in her eyes.

ⓒ 2016 WATV

Around 6 p.m. on the 11th, the final match between Japan and Canada was held, and the athletes from Cuba, India, and others joined the supporters in cheering to bring the event to a successful conclusion. It was the festival of unity and friendship beyond national and linguistic boundaries on the baseball ground.

Until 10 p.m. after the final, in which the Japanese team won, and the closing ceremony, the Aurah Supporters gave applause and cheers to all the baseball players who had done their best until the end. “The Aurah Supporters’ exceptional cheer for other teams, as if they’re their national team, is the talk of women’s baseball circles,” said Jeong Jin-gu, the President of Women’s Baseball Association Korea, clapping his hands.

ⓒ 2016 WATV

“I’ve participated in four international games in a row, and it’s indeed my first time to receive such a heartwarming cheer in a foreign country. Thanks to that, I could show myself at my best,” said Sato Ayami from Team Japan, a double winner for the best starting pitcher and the MVP.

“Many of us were worried about this event due to the lack of public attention. But it became a success thanks to the Aurah Supporters as it took the lead in showing a virtue of consideration. You were not merely a cheerleading squad, but nongovernmental diplomats,” said an official in Gijang-gun, Busan, who was in charge of the event administration, expressing his gratitude.

The end of the supporting schedule was the farewell ceremony for each team returning to its home country from the following day of the closing ceremony until the next day. “We cheered for them, wishing all the athletes to have happy memories about the games and Korea, regardless of the outcomes of their games. We’re ready to go wherever our attention and helping hands are needed,” said the supporters with eagerness.
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