Creating a supportive environment for athletes with children
Sumitomo Corporation is striving to support a diverse workforce through a commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. In line with JLPGA’s goal to create an environment that supports all athletes, including female players caring for young children, both organizations came together to establish childcare facilities at JLPGA tournaments.
The childcare was first introduced May 4th through seventh during the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup. There are currently plans to provide the service again at several future tournaments in 2023, including the JLPGA Tour and the JLPGA Step Up Tour.
What one player has to say about the childcare service
We asked JLPGA tour player Maiko Wakabayashi her opinion after using the daycare facilities provided at the World Ladies Championship Salonpas Cup.
- How did you feel about the program?
- My son is turning four, and started walking around the course, so I was a bit apprehensive at first about using the daycare. Last year at several JLPGA tour events, we were provided with a place where we could wait with his parents but having a full-time daycare worker to look after him is completely different. Thanks to the comprehensive support provided at this tournament, I was able to concentrate on playing. Also, this service is great because young athletes who are considering having children can rest assured that they’ll be able to come back to their careers after giving birth.
- Do you typically send your son to daycare?
- That’s right. I also depend quite a bit on my family for support. It really helps to have a daycare facility on the course, because I want to give my family a break sometimes.
- How was your son today? How did he like the daycare?
- He usually gets nervous when he meets a new daycare worker, so I was worried about that, but I’m happy to see he was having fun! It looked like he didn’t want to go home (laughs). It was great for him to get the experience of playing with new friends, too.
In July, for the first time in this initiative, a childcare facility was also set up for the Step Up Tour*1, which was used by players Yuki Ichinose, Sayuri Takashima, and Yasuko Sato.
*1 A tour that started in 1991 for the purpose of nurturing and improving the level of players and newcomers who are not eligible to participate in the JLPGA tour by accumulating match experience.
- What do you think about this initiative?
- There are many players on the Step Up Tour who have children, so I'm glad that JLPGA provided daycare program. I was unable to take part in a tour because I could not leave my child. I think it's difficult to do immediately, but if the number of tours that can be installed like this gradually increases, it will be very helpful. There are some players who are at a level where they can participate in the Step Up Tour but are worried about not being able to leave their children, so I would be happy if they continue.
- What are your future goals?
- It doesn't matter if I gave birth to a child and became a mother, I always play with the aim of winning the championship.
- How was your experience with the childcare facility?
My son is 1 year and 2 months old and has never been to a childcare facility.
I thought he would cry more, but he was upset at the beginning, and after that he stopped crying in an instant, so it was very helpful. I was a little worried about leaving my son at a nursery school far away from the course, but when it was at the course, I could see him when I have time, so I was able to leave my son with peace of mind.
- In the future, with the increase in the number of childcare facilities at tournament, how do you think your child-raising situation and the way you approach your work will change?
- When the JLPGA is promoting the implement of childcare facilities, I think that I will have more opportunities to think more seriously about how I face competition and my relationship with children. Thanks to the initiative, it is easier to adjust my time, and I have an image that I can work more seriously. I want to do my best to get back into the tournament.
- Will having a childcare facility affect your child?
- If my child comes to the tour, she can understand the atmosphere of the mother's work, and I think she will be happy to meet many professionals. She’s 9 years old, and she usually looks at the score board and remember the names, so I think it's a good learning experience and stimulating to meet various players. I also have a strong support just by having my child by my side. After all, I think it's for my child, and I was able to do my best because I wanted to bring them to the final round.
- What do you expect from childcare support initiatives?
- There are players who don't want to bring their children to the tour because they want to concentrate. Each player has own feelings, whether to bring children to the tour. It’s a personal choice. However, I would be very grateful if they could create an environment where players don't have to hold back. In that sense, I think it would be really appreciated if they prepare childcare support at QT*2. First of all, as a starting line, if QT had a childcare facility, I wondered if there would be a part where everyone could concentrate more. However, even though they can participate in a match, it would be meaningless without such environment in Step up Tour. It is important to create an environment at QT and all tours.
*2 QT (Qualifying Tournament) : Tournament to determine eligibility for next year's JLPGA Tour and JLPGA Step Up Tour. Until the first re-ranking on the JLPGA tour, qualifications are determined by the ranking of QT.
Sumitomo Corporation will continue to support creating environments that help those raising children to perform at their best and contribute to the advancement of women’s professional golf competitions and all sports through the sponsorship of projects like this. We also hope to convey the values and attitudes of Sumitomo Corporation Group through these types of sponsorships.