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Greenwich, CT Patch Covers Successful Champion A Champion Golf Classic 9/20

Richard Kaufman, local Patch editor for Connecticut, covering Greenwich and Stamford, covered our 2nd Champion A Champion Golf Classic, which took place on September 20th at Tamarack Country Club in Greenwich, CT, for Patch! is an American local news and information platform. Thank you to all involved for our successful collaboration with Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation and commemoration of the 21st anniversary of the 2000 Subway Series.


September 20, 2021

Matsui, Valentine, Global Citizens Initiative Help Empower Youth

Hideki Matsui, Bobby Valentine, and Global Citizens Initiative, a Greenwich-based nonprofit, participated in a charity golf event Monday.

By Richard Kaufman

GREENWICH, CT — After it was cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Global Citizens Initiative (GCI) and the Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation held the second annual Champion A Champion Golf Classic on Monday at the picturesque Tamarack Country Club in Greenwich.

Several years ago, GCI, a Greenwich-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational enterprise that aims to empower young global citizens from all sectors of society to be lifelong leaders of positive change, partnered with New York Yankees legend Hideki Matsui and the Matsui 55 Baseball Foundation, a nonprofit organization which encourages healthy and active lifestyles through the game of baseball.

Monday's event, which benefited programs in both organizations, featured a day of golf between attendees and notable athletes such as former Yankee players Tino Martinez and Jim Leyritz, as well as former New York Met John Franco, among others. There was also a special sports memorabilia auction, cocktail reception and dinner.

The event also paid homage to the 21st anniversary of the Subway Series, which saw the Yankees defeat the Mets in five games to capture their third title in a row.

Bob Costas moderated a special fireside chat Monday evening to reminisce on the historic series with former Yankees manager Joe Torre, and former New York Mets manager Bobby Valentine.

GCI founder Yumi Kuwana said she was happy to finally have the event after it was postponed last year.

"There's been such pent-up demand from our community, as well as our team. To have this opportunity to collaborate together, we're beyond excited," she said.

Having been born in the United States and raised in Japan, Kuwana didn't speak Japanese well enough to fit in with everyone else. Because of this, she was bullied and ultimately had to transfer schools.

With that experience, she vowed to make sure her children could be successful in both countries, speak both languages and be culturally sensitive.

Kuwana wanted to extend this message on a broader scale, so she established GCI in 2012 in order to engage, educate and empower the next generation of global citizens from all sectors of society to be citizens of the world.

Proceeds from the event will be split evenly between GCI and Matsui 55, Kuwana said.

"The proceeds will help empower youth, especially the under-resourced community members so they, too, can have a chance to play baseball, or have a chance to attend the GCI fellowship," Kuwana explained.

Every year, GCI holds a 10-month fellowship program which equips young global citizens with the mindset, skills and resources necessary to become effective and ethical global leaders.

In 2022, the Summit, which launches the 10-month program, will be held at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Applications will open in fall 2021.

Matsui became a national hero in Japan, playing 10 seasons for the Yomiuri Giants — the country's most storied franchise. He came over to the U.S. prior to the 2003 season and spent seven years with the Yankees, and one year apiece with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays before retiring in 2013 as a member of the Yankees.

Over his MLB career, Matsui hit .282 with 175 homers and 760 RBI in 1,236 games played. Matsui was selected to two all-star teams, and was named the 2009 World Series MVP after winning the championship with New York.

The goal of Matsui's foundation is to "have as many of the youth as possible learn the joy of playing baseball and develop a passion for the game, while promoting the importance of critical thinking skills." The foundation helps increase access to baseball equipment.

Matsui said he also wants to convey important lessons to young children that he learned while playing baseball growing up in Japan.

"I learned baseball in the Japanese environment. In that environment, they tend to emphasize the intangibles of baseball, such as your mannerisms, respect, taking care of your baseball equipment, how you treat each other, and being considerate to others," Matsui said through his interpreter Roger Kahlon before he hit the golf course.. "Those are the things that I was taught and I think that's something I want to pass on to the children."

The partnership with GCI made sense, Matsui explained. The first joint event with the two organizations was held in Greenwich in 2018.

"What we do is very different in general, but we work with children, with youth, and we work towards imparting something to them. In our conversations [with GCI], we've talked about if there's anything we can do together. That's where it started, and it's evolved to this event today," Matsui said.

Valentine, who is running as an unaffiliated candidate for mayor of Stamford, played for 10 years in the major leagues, and managed the Texas Rangers, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox throughout his career. He also managed overseas in Japan.

Valentine remembered how the 2000 World Series captivated the New York metro area.

"In 2000, many dreams were realized. In 1997, we began interleague play, and people saw the Yankees and Mets play games that counted. Prior to that, the only times we ever played was in Mayor's Cup back in the 1970s," Valentine said. "When we finally met in the World Series, the city was alive. Baseball brought everything together in a very similar way it did a year later after 9/11. People rallied around baseball."

Matsui said he has fond memories watching the 2000 Subway Series in Japan. He said he would wake up in the morning, watch the game that was on, and then play in the Japanese equivalent to the World Series — the Japan Series — later that night.

"I remember Derek Jeter's leadoff home run [in game four], and then Luis Sojo, who typically wasn't one of the core players, I remember him hitting the game winning hit [in game five]," Matsui said.

Valentine said GCI and Matsui 55 both play important roles in preparing youth for the future.

"It's an honor to be with Hideki Matsui," Valentine said. "And the Global Citizens Initiative has been something close to my heart for nine years now since the beginning where we've been trying to educate and engage and make sure the next generation of leaders are properly prepared. Today is very important for this initiative."


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