Global Toyota athletes training hard everyday
A new section has been added to the Toyota Times Sports series, with special focus on Toyota athletes who train hard day in and out, as well as on those working hard in the motorsports world.
“TEAMS & ATHLETES” provides readers with information on Toyota’s sports teams in Japan, from the company’s sports clubs such as baseball team and women’s basketball team, to professional soccer team Nagoya Grampus and basketball team Alvark Tokyo. Additionally, a list of about 240 Global Team Toyota Athletes, which can be sorted out by specific competitions and regions, is made available. Background stories are also included in the section, highlighting some of these athletes who continuously take on challenges to reach an ambitious goal.
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Passion for sports passed down from the founding era
Toyota’s passion for sports was present from the very early days of the company when it was founded in 1937. It was in the same year that the founder Kiichiro Toyoda organized the first sports club, track and field, within the newly established company. Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Kiichiro and Toyota President, explains his thinking on the reason why.
More than 80 years ago, our founder Kiichiro Toyoda created a sports club along with an automotive division. I was first wondering what the sports club was for at the time, and eventually came to understand why. The spirit of “never giving up” and the spirit of “for the team” that encourages people to work for someone else－I believe these mindsets were exactly what the founding members needed in their reckless challenge to establish the automotive industry in Japan. Kiichiro must have felt that sports could help strengthen the values they should cherish, bringing about what would make Toyota, Toyota. Since then, the automobile company and the sports team, have always been inseparable; they always pushed each other to continue on, as their paths overlapped.
Following the track and field club, a Judo club was created in 1938. As the years went on, Toyota added more sports clubs to its roster, notably a soccer, rugby, and volleyball club. A decade later, in 1951, the company held its first-ever “All-Toyota Games”, an event where Toyota Group companies competed with each other through various athletic activities, representing growing enthusiasm in sports activities at Toyota.
By 1974, Toyota had as many as 35 different sports clubs, divided among its primary working locations in Japan. For example, the Tokyo office had basketball, while track and field was in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture (where its Tahara Plant is located); at the Higashi Fuji technical center in Shizuoka Prefecture, it was soccer. These various locations (and others) had athletes that participated regularly in world-wide competitions. Sports had taken a prominent position in the minds of employees at Toyota.
Even as globalization has, to some extent, created division among people, sports still play an important role in uniting people around the world, by bringing harmony and an opportunity to understand one another. Sports can encourage supporters, reinvigorate people in the local communities, and internally, bring team members around the world together. These are the reasons why Toyota is passionate about sports.
The power of sports is a value Toyota has cherished
Toyota has, since its founding, remained committed to keeping its internal sports teams and continued to recognize sports as a way of bringing people together, no matter the market conditions or the broader challenges its business has faced. It is because the power of sports is exactly a value that Toyota has long cherished, as shown in key words of sports: “challenge,” “never give up,” “teamwork,” and “respect.”
People all over the world have experienced difficulty because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and athletes are no exception, having struggled with various restrictions. Regardless, Team Toyota athletes around the world will never stop fervently moving forward and aiming high. In this new section, Toyota Times will uncover such actions and spirit of Toyota’s athletes.