Youth tournaments where coaches cannot vent their anger at children have increased in popularity and encompassed a growing number of sports since debuting in Japan in 2015.

Former Japan women's volleyball player Naomi Masuko spearheaded the first such tournament in the hope of creating a better sporting environment for youths who may otherwise have borne the brunt of abusive coaching.

Volleyball tournaments mandating the code of conduct for coaches were held in six prefectures including Fukuoka and Kanagawa before the first football tournament with the same creed was staged in June 2022 in Akita.

Baseball, which has gained a reputation for aggressive coaching over the years, has also been taking steps.

Former volleyball player Naomi Masuko speaks about coaching on Dec. 10, 2022, in Niigata, Japan. (Kyodo)

Speaking to baseball coaches of varying generations at an event late last year in Niigata, Masuko warned against limiting children's potential by taking away their enjoyment of sports.

"I never thought a game was fun. Coaching with anger cannot foster players' autonomy," Masuko said.

Revealing the physical and verbal abuse she received during her playing days, the 56-year-old, who was drawn to volleyball by the renowned manga "Attack No. 1," noted parallels between her sport and baseball.

"It's 'Star of the Giants' for baseball," she said, referencing another iconic manga series in which the main character rises to stardom under tough coaching.

"Both sports have perceptions from the Showa era (1926-89) living on."

Masuko, who hoped her ideas would resonate among other sports, found kindred spirits in the Niigata Youth Baseball Organization Council, which ran the recent event for coaches and has made previous efforts to improve youth competition.

It set up an expert panel after the local high school baseball federation introduced pitch count restrictions in 2018.

Takashi Ofuchi, the head of scouts for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Nippon Professional Baseball, believes baseball should play a leading role in changing the mindset of coaches.

"The baseball world has to take the lead in moving toward the right direction. That's the responsibility of those who are engaged in (Japan's current) Reiwa era," he said.

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