Afghan woman throws first pitch at Hiroshima ballpark on World Peace Day

by Kyosuke Mizukawa, Staff Writer

To commemorate World Peace Day on September 21, a day established by the United Nations, a variety of activities took place at the professional baseball game held at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium. These activities conveyed a message from Hiroshima of the importance of peace and included a ceremony for the first pitch, thrown by a woman from Afghanistan, where social unrest persists.

Throwing the first pitch was Frozan Abdul Mahfooz, 21, the captain of the Afghanistan National Women’s Football Team. The audience let out a loud cheer when she took to the mound and threw a strong pitch. She and her teammates were invited to Hiroshima, as trainees, by the Hiroshima Office of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).

In addition, blue bases, the color of the United Nations, were used for the first, second, and third bases, and a “peace emblem” adorned the sleeves of the uniforms of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, Hiroshima’s professional baseball team. During breaks in the game, about 100 people, including staff from the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Chugoku International Center (JICA Chugoku) and trainees from countries in Central and South America, performed a special dance on the field for the Hiroshima Carp.

The UNITAR Hiroshima Office, JICA Chugoku, and the the Hiroshima Toyo Carp worked together to stage this event for the first time. Mihoko Kumamoto, the director of the UNITAR Hiroshima Office, said, “Sports can boost exchange between people across borders. As a unique way for Hiroshima to send its message of peace to the world, we hope to continue holding this event in the future.”

(Originally published on September 22, 2015)