Kusano strives to make beach volleyball more popular in Japan
“Beach volleyball is not very popular in Japan, compared to indoor”, Ayumi Kusano said on Wednesday after her first match at the FIVB Anapa Open.
“There are not a lot of players who choose for beach volleyball. In high school we only play indoor and there is no beach volleyball school or anything.”
Kusano has been playing on the World Tour since 2008 with different partners. Only on three occasions did she make it to the main draw, her best finish was 9th place last year with Mutsumi Ozaki at the Bangsaen Open.
In Anapa Kusano is teamed up with Samaa Miyagawa, who never played in a FIVB event before. “On route to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the federation is mixing up the teams and trying new combinations”, Kusano said.
Miyagawa was very nervous upon her debut and they could not crown her first match with a victory, losing 2-0 (21-19 21-13) to Russia’s Irina Chaika and Ekaterina Syrtseva.
“We made too many mistakes, our pass was no good and we had difficulty with the wind here. But this was our first match and we can only do better after this, I hope”, Kusano said.
Beach volleyball is all in one
Despite the more lucrative and popular option of volleyball, Kusano is still very happy with her choice for beach volleyball. “I just like the game better, because there’s only two players and you get to do everything, spike and receive and serve, all in one.”
Kusano just hopes that beach volleyball will develop more in the coming years and that she can be an example by getting good results. “We need more players, more beach courts – there’s only ten beaches in Japan where you can play - , more staff and trainers.”