• Kyodo

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Some 700 people from Japan and Russia participated in a gateball competition Saturday in the town of Memuro in Hokkaido.

Among the players was Konstantin Skoropyshnyi, 15, who received treatment in Hokkaido 12 years ago after being severely burned in his hometown on Sakhalin Island.

“It seems that in Japan gateball is a sport for the elderly, but I think it has a fascinating aspect different from soccer. It is especially exciting when the ball goes through the first gate,” Konstantin said with a smile.

A total of 108 teams, including two youth teams from Russia, participated in the competition.

The town of Memuro is the birthplace of gateball, which was developed after World War II as a recreational sport for children. It is loosely based on croquet and later became popular among senior citizens in Japan.

Volunteers in Memuro began promoting gateball at sports clubs on Sakhalin three years ago. Konstantin and his team were subsequently invited to the competition.

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