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Overcoming Language Barriers Through Soccer and Photography

Children and parents alike got to bond through soccer and photography at the Albirex Soccer Tournament 2017. Join us as we check out the highlights of that day. (Report by: SNAPSHOT)

Kids playing soccer


Young players battling out for the champion trophy

There are some things in life that can be understood regardless of one's native tongue or culture, such as hearing the crowd erupt in cheers of "GOAL!!!" during an intense match of soccer, or the satisfaction of hearing the shutter of a camera going off when taking a photo. The Albirex Soccer Tournament held on the 18th of October 2017 became a place where soccer met photography, bringing friends, families and even strangers closer together. Organized by the Albirex Niigata Soccer School, this event was the first ever U8 and U10 (under 8 and 10 years of age) inter-club tournament organized in Singapore.

160-odd young players from different teams and nationalities battled it out for the championship trophy early in the morning of the Deepavali public holiday at the Queenstown ActiveSG Stadium in Singapore. For some of them, it was the first ever tournament of their lives, and for others, this tournament meant coming back to see familiar faces that grew up alongside them. But above all that, this was where they forged unbreakable bonds that transcended language, race and religion. However, it wasn’t just the young players – throngs of parents and coaches for the respective teams also showed up to cheer their kids on, as well as to catch them in action.

Coach soccer team meeting

Teams engaging in pre-match meetings to discuss their tactics and strategy. 


The tournament was split into two categories, U8 (kids below 8 years of age), and U10 (kids aged 9 or 10), with each category having two matches taking place concurrently next to each other. Teams battled it out in a round robin style, where the teams with the most wins would go on to compete for the trophy in the final round.

The whistle went off when the clock struck 9 a.m., signalling the start of the first set of matches of the day and the crowd started to come alive with the cheers of excited parents. Despite many teams having players of varying ethnicities and nationalities, the young players communicated with each other and worked together without even uttering a single word. 


The universal language that transcends all barriers

soccer kids shaking hands

“In soccer, as long as you have a ball, you will be able to communicate with other players regardless of where you are”, says Mr Keiji Shigetomi, manager of the Albirex Soccer School. “Each match starts and ends with a handshake, a form of communication that transcends all language barriers”. The idea for the previous U8 and U10 soccer festival for Albirex Soccer School students came to fruition after they noticed that younger kids didn’t have many opportunities to take part in large-scale tournaments.

Riding on the success of their first event, this second tournament saw other teams joining the fray as well, with Shigetomi’s reason being that “being able to play with kids from other countries is something that they (the Albirex students) will never be able to experience in Japan”. This tournament is likely to be the first of many to come, as Albirex Niigata Soccer School has plans for similar tournaments in the future.


Keiji Shigetomi Profile

Mr Keiji Shigetomi, manager of the Albirex Soccer School. With two successful soccer events under their belt, Albirex plans to organize more of such events in the future.


Remembering a milestone in their children’s lives through photography

Just like soccer, photography is also a universal language that transcends all language barriers. Aiding the parents in capturing precious moments of this milestone in their kids’ lives was none other than the dedicated team behind the Canon Photo Party, who brought the latest cameras and lenses with them to ensure that the parents could get the best possible shots of their kids in action.

Parents had an arsenal of different camera bodies and lenses to choose from to suit their individual styles and needs, such as the EOS 7D Mark II DSLR and EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM for those who demand only the best possible image quality. For those who preferred to remain more mobile, the EOS M10 and EF-M55-250mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM combo was also available for parents who wanted a compact and lighter camera while still retaining spectacular image quality. All cameras were available for loan free of charge and were snapped up in an instant by the eager parents itching to get started photographing their children. Aside from being able to loan cameras for free, parents could also submit their best photographs to the photo contest (also organized by Canon Photo Party) for a chance to win a Canon SELPHY printer as well as to get featured on the Albirex website.

Canon photo party staff with camera

The dedicated staff at the Canon Photo Party booth posing with the array of cameras to be loaned out to parents.


Canon Photo Party parent loaning camera

Parents could loan out cameras, courtesy of Canon Photo Party, to photograph their children in action.


Carrying on his home country’s national heritage

One such parent was Mr. Arturo Fernandez, who hails all the way from the country of Spain with his son. He shares his love for soccer with his son, who fell in love with the sport after watching matches on TV as well as learning it in school when he was growing up. While Mr. Fernandez only plays soccer occasionally for recreation, his son has been actively involved in the soccer scene ever since moving to Singapore with his family 4 years ago. To say that he had made just a few new friends would be an understatement, as seen from his closely knit team comprising of players of different ethnicities huddling together when we asked to take a group photo.

With the EOS M10 combo in hand, he said he chose this camera due to its ease of use, as well as the lightweight and compact body which allowed him to move around the pitch to photograph his son playing. Mr. Fernandez mentions that “while a smartphone is convenient for capturing some moments, it’s always great to have pictures taken with a good camera”, which he has indeed done for this tournament to document an important moment in his son’s life.

Arturo Fernandez group photo

Mr Fernandez (second from left) with the EOS M10 + EF-M55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM and his son’s team of closely knit friends.


Stepping up to higher quality images of her son

Another such parent was Ms. Harue Shimato, who came down to support her son. Ms. Shimato was spotted cheering her son on the sides of the playing field, all whilst doing her best to capture great shots of him in action. While she normally uses her smartphone to take pictures, she realized many of the images that followed were blurred and unusable.

That was when she noticed the Canon Photo Party booth and decided to give shooting with the EOS M10 mirrorless camera a go. Paired with the EF-M55-250mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM lens, the first match proved to be quite a challenge as she strived to get used to handling the camera, but she quickly got the hang of it from the second match onwards thanks to the ease of use of the camera. “As I was using a telephoto lens, I managed to take some rather close-up shots of my son playing”, she says, acknowledging that the images she got from the EOS M10 were drastically better than that of her smartphone. As for her son, not only does he have many high-quality photos of him in action now, but also valuable experiences from the matches with players from other countries.

Harue Shimato w son

Ms. Shimato with her son. She borrowed the EOS M10 due to its light weight, which allowed her to skirt around the edges of the playing field with ease.


Passing on the love of soccer to the next generation

“What can I say, soccer is in the blood, it’s a Malaysian thing,” says Mr. Rahimi, when asked about his love for soccer. True to his word, he and his friend Mr. Fairuz travelled down with their sons Ziyad and Azfar from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, just to take part in this soccer tournament. Their love of soccer runs through their veins, with the passion and technical know-how passed down from father to son. The two 7-year old boys have been playing since they were 5, and have since made numerous friends and gained much valuable experience over the past two years.

Sporting his personal Canon EOS 550D and a EF-S55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens, Mr. Fairuz was all geared up to capture the best shots of the two boys carrying on their fathers’ dreams of becoming professional soccer players. He says that shooting with a DSLR was more or less a given, as having a DSLR makes it much easier to get crisp and sharp images as compared to a smartphone camera. As Ziyad is due to compete in Indonesia this coming December, he will be going on to meet even more international friends aside from the ones he had already made in Singapore. It is an unpredictable road to the top for Ziyad, but Mr. Fairuz is sure to be there as to support and photograph his son every step of the way.

Malaysian group photo

From left: Mr Rahimi, Azfar, Ziyad, and Mr Fairuz (with his EOS 550D and EF-S55-200mm f/4-5.6 IS STM).


Albirex soccer trophies

The young players with their eyes fixated on the much-coveted trophy.


A battle well fought, victory well earned

After a gruelling 4 hours of back-to-back matches, the winners and runners-up of the individual U8 and U10 categories emerged – battered and tired, but ecstatic at their victory. The results were announced, and players from the winning teams went forward to collect their prizes, beaming brightly as they raised their trophy into the air, while their proud parents snapped away with their cameras. For many of them, it might have been their first-ever tournament, but it certainly won’t be their last. For now, though, it was time for a well-earned rest. Everyone headed home, slightly burnt from the hot afternoon sun, but with priceless memories and photographs that would stay with them for a lifetime.

Albirex team trophy


Parents putting their best photo forward for the Photo Contest

It was not just the children that got to compete against each other that day, but the parents did too as well, as they submitted their best photos taken on the day itself to the photo contest hosted by Canon Photo Party. Let’s check out the winning photo and hear the comments of the parent that took it!

photo contest winning photo

Winning photo: Fujita Yumi
“It was a very hot day, but the kids enjoyed playing soccer very much.”

For winning the photo competition, Ms Fujita walks away with a Canon SELPHY printer!


To see the other selected photos, check out the link below:



Family Fun at Albirex Niigata's Pokémon Day – Canon Photo Party Report
Canon Photo Party @ Anisong Fantasy Live 2017 in Singapore
Canon Photo Party @ May’n ASIA TOUR 2017 「OVER∞EASY」in Taipei
Canon Photo Party @ AFA Singapore 2016


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