LIHUE — Fresh off the heels of Waimea High School hosting Anuenue, a small Hawaiian language speaking school that had the game announced in Hawaiian. Kauai High School is now preparing for its first preseason bout with another not-so-typical opponent.
The difference is Kauai’s opponent is not from Hawaii, they are not even from the United States. Kwansei Gakuin High School will be making a trek from Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan, which is between Osaka and Kobe, to Vidinha Stadium to take on the Red Raiders on Saturday. Junior Varsity will start at 4:30 p.m. and varsity kicks off at 7 p.m.
Ryo Ogawa is an alumni of Kwansei and also played in the first meeting between Kauai High School and Kwansei in 1971.
According to Ogawa, the game in 1971 was the first international high school football game in history and was held on Kauai. The Red Raiders then traveled to Japan in 1972 for its second matchup with Kwansei. The game on Saturday will be the 12th time the schools have suited up against one another.
“Although I haven’t personally been in contact with Kwansei, I can imagine the excitement and enthusiasm that Kwansei players are feeling,” said Dino Pabre, Kauai High School athletic director. “It might be the first time to Hawaii for many of the players. Kwansei is a very good football team and plays in a very competitive region in Japan.”
In addition to the cultural significance surrounding the game, the Kauai High School staff will also have the task of evaluating where its team stands and what, if any improvements need to be made. Although the Red Raiders have to take care of business on the field, off the field the team and coaches will be hosting Kwensai in multiple activities.
“This will be a great experience for both teams,” Pabre said. “It’s not just about playing football. The experiences gained outside of football is just as important. The teams will participate in several cultural exchange activities throughout the weekend.”
Activities beyond football will include a Kauai hosted dinner tonight, which will also have entertainment from both teams. After the game on Saturday, the teams will take part in a Hawaiian plate dinner. Kauai High players and coaches will then be hosting the Kwansei players for the rest of the weekend.
“Kwansei players will have an opportunity to experience the local lifestyle on Kauai,” Pabre said. “Our players and coaches (will) experience some of the culture and customs of the Japan players.”
Please note the JV game time is 4:30 p.m.