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Canon Photo Party at Albirex Soccer Festival: Preserving Memories for the Family Photo Album

First memories are fond memories, always worthy of preserving in a photograph. What more if they are of your child putting heart, soul and tons of effort into a favourite hobby? For many of the soccer youths in Singapore, the Albirex Soccer Festival, held on 26 June 2017, was the first ever soccer competition of their lives. This report focuses on the Canon Photo Party held at this event. (Report by: SNAPSHOT)

Canon Photo Party at Albirex Soccer Festival

 

Kindergartners enter the fray as well – the first soccer match of their lives!

Canon Photo Party at Albirex Soccer Festival

Participating in a competition for the first time also means receiving a trophy for the first time. This is possibly also the very first time these children are experiencing such delight. 

 

The Albirex Niigata-Singapore Soccer School is Singapore’s only soccer school run by a Japanese professional soccer club. Held on 26th June 2017 at their home stadium in Jurong East Stadium, Singapore, the first-ever Albirex Soccer Festival was targeted at the school’s younger students. Students of the school who were eligible participated in the event in either of two categories: the U6 category for those aged 5-6, and the U9 category for those aged 7-9. In other words, it was a one-of-a-kind tournament with the main focus being the young children. 

When asked about his ultimate goal for this event, soccer school manager Mr. Keiji Shigetomi said, “I wanted to let them [the children] experience their first-ever competition…Young children usually have lesser chances to take part in official competitions, so I wanted to create an opportunity for them to participate in one.” He had observed that the objective of participating in an external competition is victory, and in order to achieve it, a team will inevitably be made up of the finest selection of athletes. Children who are of smaller build and relatively inexperienced in terms of skill therefore tend to have very little opportunities to take part in competitions. Soccer, however, “is a sport where you learn the most by participating in matches”. This event was apparently the fruit of the coaches' daily discussions about how they could better engage the younger children in the sport. 

According to Mr. Shigetomi, this was a first experience for many of the U-6 children. As children of that age did not yet have the physical strength of skills to handle the ball,  he tried to think of ways to create as many chances as possible for them to do. They made it a rule to have 5 people in 1 team, so that each child would have more chances with the ball. The program, which consisted of 2 stages of qualifiers and final tournament, was designed not to kick out the teams that lost, but to decide who got to play in the finals: Care was taken to ensure that each team got to play in at least 2 matches. The teams were formed to ensure an unbiased mix players of varying ages and experience levels from both the U-6 and U-9 teams, and groupings were only announced on the day itself. For the actual match, there was only one important point: The goalkeeper was not fixed. This allowed each player to have more chances to chase after the ball.

Young players on the field

The young players competing. Those serious expressions are of the kind you will only see in a first match.

Students’ post-match emergency meeting, Albirex Soccer Festival

After the competition, the students hold an emergency meeting for the next match. The third year students usually initiate such meetings voluntarily.

 

Canon Photo Party at Albirex Soccer Festival

A total of 50 odd participants ranging from ages 5 – 9 took part in the first ever Albirex Soccer Festival. For many of them, it was the first-ever soccer competition of their lives.

 

“What surprised me was that the children automatically held their own meetings after the end of each match”, said Mr. Ryo Ishibashi, who was the coach in charge of the operations and flow of events that day. “I guess it is indeed frustrating to lose a match. Despite not giving them any instructions in particular, I was able to see various groups of children with serious faces engaging in discussion.” At the heart of each discussion was usually a 3rd year "senior" student, calling out to their team, gathering them, and discussing strategies for the next match. For the 3rd year students, it was not because they had more experience being in a team in a competition. Rather, in this event they probably realized that they were the seniors, and took the reins and displayed their leadership skills. And of course, each post-match meeting was also likely a first experience for the younger children.

“I was really happy to see so many parents come down to support the event”, Mr. Ishibashi said. While parents could, of course, expect to catch sight of their children chasing the ball with all their might while wearing serious expressions on their faces, it would probably be a very new experience to see their children gathering and discussing strategies with their newly found companions, or shedding tears of joy or disappointment after winning and losing together as a team. In fact, Mr. Ishibashi, shared that the parents injected more fervour into their cheering and photo-taking than usual. “During the event, [the parents] kindly came down to the field to help take photos of the children, and there were a few enthusiastic ones that were so caught up in the action that they somehow made their way into the game area without even realizing it”, he told us, letting out a hearty laugh. That is to say, the children are not the only ones who make new discoveries when participating in a competition such as this one.

Soccer school manager Mr. Keiji Shigetomi with coach Mr. Ryo Ishibashi

Mr. Keiji Shigetomi (right), the soccer school manager who was in charge of planning and managing the event, together with coach Mr. Ryo Ishibashi (left). When asked about their response towards this event, they replied “For the subsequent event, we would like to invite teams from around the region to engage in an exchange program competition, which will be sure to deepen their love for soccer even more.”

 

Eager parents going onto the field to get closer to their children in a photography scene brimming with excitement

Parent photographing child

The Albirex Soccer Festival was an event where parents could get a rare glimpse of their children, with determined expressions on their faces, engaging in an intense match of soccer alongside their companions. Supporting the parents’ photography efforts was none other than Canon Photo Party, a project that has been carried out at numerous music events in various Asian countries. This time, they have also lent their photography support to the sports scene. There were more than 30 cameras prepared for use, all of which were the latest camera models such as the EOS M6 and the EOS 800D. On the day of the event, every single one of these cameras was loaned out, free-of-charge, to parents hoping to capture pictures of their children in action.

 

“Indeed, smartphones are rather limited in capability when it comes to sports photography. This would be a good opportunity for [event attendees] to get to know the capabilities of a camera better,” said Mr. Dai Kichiji, Head of Marketing for Canon Singapore, the official supporter of this project. “When photographing a soccer match, one thing that you have to keep an eye on is shutter speed. We set the cameras to shutter-priority AE, and shutter speed to 1/320 seconds before handing them over to the parents.”

This was done because one major advantage of a camera is the fast AF speed. However, if the shutter speed is slow it will cause subject blur no matter how fast the AF is, and as a result the expressions on the children’s faces will be obscured. Therefore, the Canon Photo Party team decided to help parents to take proper “frozen in motion” shots by ensuring that the cameras were set with the optimal settings for doing so. Being able to change the camera settings to suit a particular scene is one of the merits of a dedicated photography device such as a camera.

Mr. Kichiji noted that the camera users at the event “did indeed seem immensely delighted whenever they took a good photo. They also asked us many questions about things that they were unsure of.” Just by remembering a few key camera settings, one will be able to improve their photography. These enthusiastic soccer parents might just have found a new hobby to take on.

Borrowing cameras at the Canon Photo Party booth

On the day of the event, there were 30 cameras available for loan for free at the Canon Photo Party booth.

 

 

Parent on the field

Parents were able to head down to the field to get up close and capture their children in action. The fast AF of EOS cameras ensured that they could capture crisp and clear shots of their children’s fleeting expressions.

 

 

Canon Photo Party staff in action

Canon Photo Party staff were on scene as well to assist first-time camera users who were unsure on how to operate the camera. Using shutter-priority AE mode allows one to capture surprisingly sharp images of sports such as soccer, where subject movements are often unpredictable.

 

Forging new bonds between parent and child through a photo contest

The Canon Photo Party supported the photographic endeavors of the enthusiastic parents who came down to capture the priceless moments of their children trying out the new soccer event. After the competition, a photo contest was held where participants could submit the photographs they took, and garnered more than 50 entries in total. “Among them were a few photos that were blur, but you could easily feel the vibes of the parents attentively watching over their children emanating from each and every one of those photos”, said Mr. Ryo Ishibashi. After going through a stringent selection procedure by the Albirex Niigata Singapore players and coaches, the liveliest photos of the children enjoying their soccer were chosen. Let’s get to know the winners, as well as hear what they have to say!

 

Question 1: Opinions about their winning works/ Question 2: Thoughts on photography.

I was able to capture his expression of elation after a goal! ‐ Overall Best Award: Kyoko Saito-

Overall Best Award (by Saito Kyoko)

Answer to Question 1: Photographing my son after the goal. Being able to vividly capture the moment when his whole being was brimming with elation in the form of a photograph made for a valuable memento for both me and my child.
Answer to Question 2: I was so caught up in the moment cheering for the children that I forgot that I was supposed to be taking photos! Even though I regret letting many photo opportunities slip by, but it was an interesting experience. It was quite difficult to capture subjects that had rather unpredictable movements. Furthermore, I was busy fussing over where the best position to take a decisive shot would be.

 

Rivals and companions ‐ Merit Award: Aiko Hirasawa-

Merit Award (by Aiko Hirasawa)

Answer to Question 1: This was the moment when my son kicked the ball towards the goal. Chasing after the ball as well were his opponents and teammates, but above all they were his friends. I was able to capture the bravado on the faces of these children who grew up as great rivals.
Answer to Question 2: It was quite hard to land that one perfect shot I was aiming for because I had to move the camera to keep up with the constantly-moving subjects.

 

The taste of an MVP trophy – Merit Award: Nobusuke Shichijo-

Merit Award (by Nobusuke Shichijo)

Answer to Question 1: My eldest son receiving the MVP trophy. He seemed ecstatic, and when he asked me to take a photo of his pose, he posed like this. (laughs)
Answer to Question 2: I usually take casual photos using my smartphone, but when looking through the viewfinder of a DSLR camera, I start to focus on the fine details and facial expressions of my subject. It was an extremely interesting experience.

 

The Albirex Soccer School is staffed with English-speaking coaches as well. They are recruiting children from all walks of life, not just Japanese. For interested parties, be sure to check out more information through the link below.

ALBIREX SINGAPORE SOCCER SCHOOL (Japanese page)
http://www.albirex.com.sg/school/

For more information about the Canon Photo Party, head to:
Canon Photo Party
Come and Join the Canon Photo Party!

Some useful articles for sports photography:
Sports Photography: How to Emphasize Speed by Contrasting Stillness with Motion
Camera FAQ #18: How to Use High-speed Continuous Shooting to Freeze Moments Skilfully
Camera FAQ #22: How Do I Make Sports Photographs Look More Dynamic?

 


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