Day in the life
Away from the glitz and glamour of the Olympic Games, dozens of athletes subsidise their daily training routines by having other jobs. From farming to banking, Tokyo 2020 looks at several hopefuls aiming to make an impact next summer and what roles they have outside of competition. This week, Japanese basketball player - and event manager - TAKADA Maki.
- Name: TAKADA Maki
- Age: 31
- Country: Japan
- Sport: Basketball
Her athlete life
TADADA Maki was a member of Japan's women’s basketball team that finished eighth at Rio 2016 - their highest finish in 20 years - and just three years later, she was chosen to captain the national team at the FIBA Women's Asia Cup, where they defeated the People's Republic of China in the final.
Now the team are ranked number 10 in the world, and Takada is eyeing gold at Tokyo 2020.
"We still have many things to work on, but we are growing more confident about achieving our dream of winning the gold medal. We feel the dream is becoming a reality," she said.
"For the Olympic Games to be hosted in Japan, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience and will be an opportunity for many people to watch basketball. As a player, I hope to produce tangible results to rev up excitement."
Away from the court, Takada presides over her event management company, and she intends to rev up excitement even further by taking the gold medal that she intends to earn next summer, on tour.
"I’m envisioning a future where I will host events across Japan to showcase the gold medal we earned at the Olympic Games."
"I would be delighted if the medal inspires more children to aim for their own Olympic dream."
2016 Getty Images
Her professional life
As an athlete and an event manager, Takada sees it her mission to make basketball more popular in Japan.
"When I joined a corporate team, I thought, ‘if I had had more opportunities to interact directly with top-tier players and seek instructions from them, especially when I started playing basketball at junior high school, I could have become a better player earlier.' Such opportunities could help improve children’s skills and communicate the fun part of basketball and sport in general."
"Players have a lot to thank their fans for. My belief is that holding more events might also lead to more support,” she explained.
Inspired to bring more opportunities for children to get into the sport, Takada decided to start her own event business.
"I started planning five or six years ago and consulted my employer about a year ago. My employer was very understanding and provided me with encouragement and support. I was profoundly grateful for this," she said.
Without any experience in setting up a company, she encountered a host of challenges.
"It was really hard. I somehow pulled through with help and guidance from all kinds of people."
On 6 April 2020, she launched an event production company (called 'True Hope') and assumed the position of president.
"My name Maki is written with two Chinese characters meaning 'truth' and 'hope'. True Hope is synonymous with dreams, and the company’s mission is to help people achieve their dreams."
"I hope to give a little extra push to encourage those pursuing their own dreams of becoming an athlete or a basketball player. I'm also thinking of supporting retired athletes who wish to remain engaged in sport by providing them with a kind of management service."
Apart from producing events, she also established an online ‘salon’ called ‘TAKADA Maki Female Athlete President’s Office’, as a hub to communicate directly with basketball players and fans.
She explained why she had decided to launch her business at a time when it is difficult to hold events due to the COVID-19 crisis.
"Having been unable to play basketball under this unprecedented situation, I felt the urge to cheer up and encourage people experiencing the frustration of not being able to play the sports they want to. I wanted to help them get their minds off the negative side of this situation and liven up their everyday life."
Currently, Takada operates the new company alone, handling everything including administrative work. But the outpouring of messages from sports fans and even from job-seekers encourages her to continue her dream of inspiring the young generation.
"Interestingly, I realised that there are many sports lovers out there seeking to work in sport."
"When active players come to events, it not only helps the players to attract supporters, but it also enhances recognition of the sport and invigorates it. If anyone is inspired [from] an event to take up a sport, it means we are contributing to the popularisation of that sport.
"Events can be applied to various sports, and I’d like to expand my business to promote all kinds of sports," she said.