Tomioka Takeyoshi first came to Vietnam as a volunteer sports teacher in 2004.
He was part of the Japanese International Charity Association which aimed to teach table tennis to gifted children at the Hoa Lu Club in HCMC.
Though he received only a modest stipend for his work, Takeyoshi fulfilled his role diligently and responsibly.
His contributions paid off and several local youths began not only to improve, but to excel and win medals.
Takeyoshi found himself becoming quite well known as a prominent instructor in the local table tennis community and acted as a bridge bringing in foreign sponsors to financially assist Vietnamese talent.
During his early volunteer days, Takeyoshi would work hard with the children from early morning to late in the evening.
He carefully demonstrated every detail of the basic techniques to his young students and when the children had mastered the basic knowledge, he went on to teach them advanced techniques and strategies.
Speaking about the enthusiastic volunteer, vice chairman of the HCMC Table Tennis Federation Nguyen Trong Truc says, “Takeyoshi has good knowledge and advanced techniques in table tennis. Therefore, he has helped us a great deal in training the young players.”
Takeyoshi’s enthusiasm and efforts have not been in vain.
After an intense amount of training, his students have won prominent matches at both municipal and national levels.
“One year after I began to teach the young male players on the
HCMC team, they won the national bronze medal. I was so happy that I burst into tears because they had never before moved to the final matches.”
Takeyoshi completed his voluntary training tasks in 2006 but instead of going home to Tokyo, Japan, he decided to stay in Saigon.
In early 2007, he opened TAKE Co., Ltd. – an exclusive authorized dealer of Japanese table tennis equipment in Vietnam.
“I am very passionate about table tennis and I admire the young players who I’ve taught.
I’ve now entered the table tennis equipment business so I can continue with my interest as well as have an opportunity to help more young players.”
Takeyoshi, whose time was always in demand as an instructor, says he is now even busier as a business proprietor.
When the company was still quite new, he found he had to spend a great deal of time and energy speaking with new customers.
However, as an instructor, Takeyoshi had many strong relationships with people in the Vietnamese table tennis community, so he was able to set up a network of other retailers around the nation after just a few months.
When his business was up and running well, Takeyoshi was able to focus once again on his mission to further Vietnam’s table tennis development.
He began to call for sponsorship for more Vietnamese table tennis players and Japan’s leading trade names in the sport such as Butterfly, Yasaka and TSP signed contracts to provide financial support for such Vietnamese table tennis players as Doan Kien Quoc, Tran Tuan Quynh, Nguyen Nam Hai, Luong Thi Tam, Vu Thi Ha and Dinh Quang Linh.
In addition, Takeyoshi’s TAKE Co. is now a regular sponsor of the national table tennis tournament and other inter-national events like “The Golden Bat” and “The Asian Table Tennis Stars.”
Takeyoshi says he will never forget his initial role as a voluntary table tennis instructor.
Even though he is kept very busy with his business these days, he still finds time to visit the Hoa Lu Club to teach students.
At present, he is instructing Tran Huy Bao – an excellent table tennis player from HCMC who has already beaten some of Vietnam’s top contemporary players.
Speaking about his teacher, Tran Huy Bao says: “I was instructed by Takeyoshi two years ago. His lessons have helped me improve my techniques and strategies. He has made huge contributions to my achievements.”
Takeyoshi says he loves Vietnam so much he has decided to settle permanently in the country.
“If my business continues to do well, I will establish a table tennis institute in HCMC where young players can train to become champions in Vietnam.”
Takeyoshi has done many great things for Vietnamese table tennis, and says he has received much happiness in return.
He feels honored, he says, by the warmth, friendliness and respect that his colleagues in Vietnam have for him.
Most importantly, says Takeyoshi, Vietnam has given him the greatest gift of all – his wife-to-be who has helped him immeasurably with his business development.
Takeyoshi says he plans to get married next year in the country he has grown to love so much.
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