Vortis Conditioning Program (SIB) (Tokushima Vortis)
Creating a new path – The story of Tokushima Vortis –
This is a project that Tokushima Vortis worked toward the goal of “Creating a healthy living for the citizens” in Mima city of Tokushima prefecture by providing a conditioning program from the coaches.
These comments were brought up from the selection committee.
“This project may be a great example of SHAREN! as Tokushima utilizes the power of sports with the topic of health care and works along with the government. Also looking from a cost perspective from the government, utilizing the scheme of social impact bond (SIB) is fitting for the Public Award.”
“However, looking from the government perspective, it has the impression of being a difficult project to conduct by many people. My biggest concern is that presenting this as a great scheme may not really catch people’s interest. In order for a project to reach nationally, there may need to be a sense that it may be difficult but have the empathy of people wanting to overcome it together. Public officer tends to be grouped as “government” and policies may be looked at all the same, but there are always “individuals” behind the scenes that are working hard. “I would like to hear the human stories behind it.”
“There are definitely perspectives like that. However, we would like to put the spotlights on the government and the clubs that support them. The scheme of the government and policy can be brushed up for the first time when there are actually people challenging it. I believe there were hurdles in making this happen, but they were able to overcome with Mima City mayor’s challenging spirit, the employee’s actions, and the ability to involve others. We would like them to tell the story.”
The intent of the SHAREN awards is not to put a ranking on the projects, but to provide the opportunity to share and spread the activity to a larger population. In this interview we have talked with Masaaki Hanaoka, who works in the insurance and health section of the Mima City Insurance Welfare department, Kodama Kenji, director of Tokushima Office of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. And Naokazu Tani (Leader of the project) and Ryuji Tsuge (Coach) from the Tokushima Vortis.
Achieving the relief after overcoming the anxiety
―How do you feel about the project right now?
（Vortis：Tani）I was honestly really happy. Many people were involved with this project and what made this successful was for each to use their strength and finding the right people to join us. To bring people from different sectors that can work toward the same goal in solving the issues, I feel we were able to make a collective impact. For all of us that participated, we all moved forward toward the same goal and I am really happy and a bit emotional to hear that resulted in receiving this Public Award.
（Vortis：Tsuge）When SHAREN! was first launched I heard that it was the abbreviation of social cooperation, but I truly feel right now that we were able to “cooperate” with Mima city and Otsuka Pharmaceutical. I feel like we accomplished something by attacking the social issues in our community and with the recognition we received by this award I feel more so now.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）This was a first attempt for a project like this for our city. Being a city with about 30,000 people, taking applications for 1,800 people in five years seemed a bit too much at first. I was worried if people are going to come, but as the project got on track it has been pretty stable. The citizens enjoyed and we are happy as a city that we were able to make this happen.
（Otsuka：Kodama）It was right after I was placed in my new post in Tokushima, but we worked quickly in creating a cooperation system to attract participants. As a result, application filled out quickly and we were able to receive good reviews. We as a company started by providing information on how useful body maintenance jelly is within our programs. From there on we provided one-point lessons on nutrition coaching and after the program was completed, we created a health ambassador development program. We are finding ways to contribute a little by little. The classes we have long been conducting for heat stroke prevention and food education activities has been our foundation for these programs. We are happy to say we were involved from the start.
―What was difficult?
（Mima City：Hanaoka）It was the first healthcare project for Mima City and our effort was directed to gain recognition and then participation, but the difficult part was for people within our operation staff to communicate the effectiveness of this program to the participants.
（Vortis：Tsuge）When talking about difficulties, it was early in the morning and at the beginning we were really busy and the staff didn’t even have time to take a break. Also people tend to view coaches as somebody that can do anything, but they’re initially a ”football” coach and was nervous and had pressure on the thought of teaching about conditioning. They did get certified, but also received a big time help from R-BODY as well.
（Vortis：Tani）At first, we were questioned about SIB internally and it was difficult to get the understanding from within. It was not like we had all the human resources in the world, and we needed our coaches to provide the programs. Along with the schools they teach, this was a time-consuming and new project. It was difficult to make it happen unless both the community and our club understood the significance of this. To be honest, there still may be people within our club that may not have fully accepted this yet.
（Vortis：Tani）However as we provide over 400 hometown activities a year, we were at a crossroad when thinking about new project and source of income. We had hopes of doing valuable work for the community, increase our income as a club and provide another source of opportunity for the coaches.
（Vortis：Tsuge）There was definitely some concern and confusion from the coaches at first. As we ask the coaches to work their usual schools and then participate in this social cooperation activity, we need to make sure they were able to balance the two. They also participated in hometown activities but taking care of people is always difficult. However, now balancing and maintaining the body has become more conscious to people from a scientifically and theoretically, which allows them to voice their message with confidence. As we compare it to football, it is like coaches teaching how to kick with the side foot and has become the “foundation” for the Vortis coaches.
（Vortis：Tani）Even though I have a feeling if I was fifteen years younger I could’ve been more active myself, but I still cannot leave it all on the coaches. I cannot just use my words to direct, but actually go to the site and go through the hard times together. I need to bring an Isoroku Yamamoto Spirit.
（Otsuka：Kodama）I believe Tani san didn’t necessary need to go to the site, but he probably wanted to be there and work together. The heart and soul of this program is “people.” The energy translates and I believe there are people who comes because they want to hear what Tani san has to say or get the conditioning lessons from Tsuge san.
The First Penguins
―How were you able to overcome the difficulties？
（Vortis：Tsuge）Although there were concerns about how difficult it may be, I heard a story from Tani san that people within the league called us the first penguins. People call you the first penguin when you’re the one going out of your comfort zone and leave the group to dive into the ocean alone where there is risk in danger of losing your life. The brave penguins are called the first penguins. The coaches heard that story and ignited themselves.
（Vortis：Tsuge）Also the smile on all the participants faces. We received positive feedbacks like “It was really effective” and “I didn’t need to drink any more pain killers.” There were many people who enjoyed the program and became fan of our club. People wanted to come just by the word of mouth. As we speak with evidence and if they become satisfied and participate which lead to results, it translates to our confidence.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）Before this program started, the coaches worked to gain the knowledge, but they improved daily. By seeing the way participants listened and as their expression changed over time, I was able to get the feel that we can really do this. Motoharu Fujita, former Mima City mayor has mentioned that whenever he goes to an event, citizens told him about the project and how happy they were. With this project, our involvement with the citizens increased. We received words from everybody like, “I don’t want this to end” and “I want to continue” around the 7th time we conducted the program.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）I think our citizens have a positive thinking toward health and they want to enjoy more. Within the participants, there were people who taught about health within our insurance health section and even some that had no interest in sports. However, after participating in this conditioning program they were able to experience the importance and the fun side of exercise which led to them joining for other health events as well.
（Vortis：Tani）There were participants that had no interest in football, but became Vortis’s fan and started to attend our games. It has led to developing fans, which is the mission of our hometown promotion department. What I was able to get from this eventually was that “If we are enjoying what we do, that spreads to people. If we believe in the power of sports, then people can be happy with sports!”
（Vortis：Tsuge）What we value is the human to human element. If the heart is not in it, even the greatest words that comes out of the mouth wouldn’t connect people. It’s about calling the participant by name, looking in the eyes when talking and if they seem to want to ask a question talk to them. Observe what the others are looking for. Don’t think too much and act with your heart. Whether it’s an adult or child, the sincere act will catch on. To challenge means you are growing. Even the failure will be a story, so don’t be afraid and try and evolve.
Not based on scheme and share the spirit
―We hear SIB is difficult for local governments to implement, but was that the case?
※Note：This project used the scheme called SIB（social impact bond）. It’s a scheme where projects are developed to solve social issues via private fund and a local public body pays the considerable value depending on the outcome. With the payment depending on the outcome, it results as an incentive for the company and their commitment toward the results get bigger. From the government perspective, they are able to make the outcome visible and it increases the accountability. It’s a model where the government and the company can sweat and work together by setting a common goal.
＊Also、as a first allotype of an incentive based private outsourcing agreement of SIB there is PFS（Pay For Success. You can see the example of some programs from below and please check the link as a reference.
（Vortis：Tani）I heard about SIB from our previous president, Nitta san. Also, at the same time during a hometown meeting where all J.LEAGUE clubs gather, the same exact topic came up. That’s when we decided to try it. However, there was not an example from the past including the KPI, and we were able to overcome that with the support from the Ministry of Economy and the Japan Research Institute.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）We received the proposal and the mayor was really positive about this and then Mr. Yoshida, Planning and Coordination Director moved it forward. We receive many concerns like the need to place a third party and how the system shouldn’t get ahead of oneself. But from the citizen’s standpoint, it doesn’t really matter if the system is social impact bond or not. We need to have the perspective as a citizen and figure out where the needs are and what we can do as a government.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）As a major premise, health is important for Mima City citizens and adding onto that there were aim to control the health care cost and nursing care benefits as a government. We have done many programs in the past but had the issue of not being able to follow the results by numbers. With having that obvious issue, we decided to go with this scheme.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）There are things that cannot be done just by the government, so involving private sectors like Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Tokushima Vortis that possess the information and specialities were important. As we were using private fund, we received support from the Ministry of Economy as well. There are not many governments that have implemented SIB, but if you reach out to the Ministry of Economy and the Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry it should be possible to make it happen.
（Otsuka：Kodama）Mayor’s decision and his action toward pushing us to make this happen was a big part, but if you commit yourself it actually becomes possible. For an incentive base scheme, there is value in progressing the project because it can lead to affecting other programs the government is working as well.
（Vortis：Tani）We feel having the courage to be the first one to act is really important. To be honest, I felt it may be difficult and had some questions that I don’t have an answer to, and had the concern we might fail but it’s important to not attempt all on your own. First of all, take that initial step and involve people around you. Start by talking about the issues within the community. Then talk about how you can solve those issues. I probably met and talked with Hanaoka san more often than my family. If you think together and involve everybody, you can move forward. If you do that, you can build a tight bond and network and grow from there. If might even not have to be SIB. It’s not based on the scheme.
We still have many dreams
―Can we hear about your future dream.
（Mima City：Hanaoka）Going into our second year, we have been going through tough times with COVID-19, but on the other hand we are able to think through a lot of things. On our city’s cable tv channel, we are getting support from Tokushima Vortis and Otsuka Pharmaceutical to provide stretching activity that you can do at home and health information to note. Putting conditioning as our focal point, we want to see how we can approach health in different ways. We are currently targeting adults but are considering expanding the age group to even younger children.
（Ostuka：Kodama）I hope this spreads to other parts of Tokushima and beyond to the whole country of Japan. Even from a club and company standpoint, it’s good to have the spotlight on this project.
（Vortis：Tsuge）As a club we want to expand horizontally as a business. We want our coaches to have the reputation of being able to teach conditioning as well and that becoming a brand that would represent within the community of Tokushima. As of expanding nationally, we would hope the J. LEAGUE to becoming a leader in expanding horizontally.
（Vortis：Tani）We still have many dreams to accomplish. We feel there are a lot of things we can expand to with conditioning being the core. For example, having an alumni event with our past program participants. We can provide opportunities for the alumni to earn a “Health Adviser Certificate” to pass on the health information to their family, friends and neighbors. Also by working along with sports organizations, we could create a physical strength improvement program for pre-school child. How great would it be if J.LEAGUE clubs can support a childhood. We can also suggest this to other self-governing bodies and companies for consideration of their people’s health. We would have our local-community vitalization aids to assist, but we would be happy if we can bring it to the level where employment for sports personnel develops from this.
Personally, my participation in exercise activities has been horrible, but I have taken the conditioning program lessons of the Tokushima Vortis before. I remember using areas of my body that I don’t use in my daily lives and resulted as a good stretch leading to muscle aches and it improved my posture. It’s always difficult to continue on your own but having a professional coach on your side gives you the comfort and if there are people you can work with together it allows you to continue.
Mima is a city that hoist beauty and health. Otsuka Pharmaceutical has focused on products that are centered around health. A football club that has a professional coach as its resources. All three parties were able to get together and with support from many people they were able to work toward making the people in the community happy. This is a great example of a program of SHAREN!
There are already talks about a conditioning program starting in other cities with other sports clubs. Preventive care for senior citizens is a hot topic nationally, so hopefully this program is spread throughout Japan.
Mr. Kodama states, “This was possible not because it was in Tokushima and we had the support from Otsuka.” We cannot forget the number of people involved and how everybody wanted to make this happen. There was some anxiety, but we took the chance and build up little successes which is always important in building something from zero to one. I want to pass along my respect to the challengers and would like to finish this article by wishing for a new challenger to be born in the future.