Tennis-playing kids from several orphanages and schools took time off from their forehands and backhands to learn a few vital lessons for life in dental care at a unique event organised by the Miss Japan Volunteer Association (MJVA) at the Beeline Arena yesterday.
An impressive turnout of around 200 boys and girls and scores of parents reflected the significance of this health initiative promoted by the Tennis Federation of Cambodia’s Global Goodwill Ambassador and 2011 Miss Japan Hisae Arai, who represented the MJVA along with two other members, the 2013 Miss Japan Yukari Koga and the 2012 winner Kiko Arai.
A host of sponsors stepped forward to ensure that this first-of-its-kind programme for Cambodian children in any sport went smoothly and efficiently.
The list of sponsors included the Organisation of International Support for Dental Education (OISDE), the Cambodia Japan Co-operation Centre, the University of Health and Sciences Cambodia, National Federations of UNESCO Associations in Japan, the Blue Pumpkin, Beeline Arena, Aquafina and the Japanese embassy in Cambodia.
One of the top promoters of Miss Japan beauty pageants, Naokimi Kataoka, sponsored 1,000 toothbrushes given away free to every participant.
The national tennis team members Bun Kenny, Mam Panhara, Mam Phalkun and Long Samneang left their disappointment over the Davis Cup postponement behind and mingled freely with the kids for a session of mini tennis before the start of the dental camp.
Also joining in for a knock or two with the kids were special invitees including Commerce Minister and TFC President Cham Prasidh, Minister of the Embassy of Japan in Cambodia Yoshihiro Higuchi, former Japanese Ambassador to Cambodia Katsuhiro Shinohara, National Olympic Committee of Cambodia Secretary General Vath Chamroeun, and Dean of Faculty of Odonto-Stomatology at the University of Health and Sciences Im Puthavy.
Once every child had collected a free toothbrush from Hisae Arai, the spotlight turned to demonstrative lectures on its appropriate use. The oral health care tips were passed on by the students of the University of Health and Science, while the expert advice and checkups came from Japanese dentist Yuka Makino from OISDE.
“I was very happy with the response from kids and parents. As a MJVA member and an associate of the Tennis Federation, I feel honoured to promote a health cause like this and we continue to serve the tennis community,” Arai told the Post.
TFC President Prasidh expressed his appreciation for the unique initiative, saying that the TFC attached as much importance to tennis skills as the good health of the kids playing the game.
TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit, meanwhile, said the event had touched my heart. “This tremendous response from kids and parents suggested to me that we are heading in the right direction,” he said.
At the end of the interactive sessions came a nice farewell lunch for all, courtesy of the Blue Pumpkin catering chain.