Sakurai plays the role of Takajou Kazuya who is modeled after Kyoya in the drama SP. Kazuya was chosen as a national team player and about to get married when he met with an accident that left him with spine injuries and having to move around in a wheelchair. With the support of his wife, Kazuya becomes a wheelchair basketball player with the dream of participating in the Paralympics.
The production crew spent 5 years interviewing Kyoya and people involved in the sport of wheelchair basketball. Their intention is not to produce a tearjerker about handicapped people but rather to show how people refuse to be defeated by difficulties in life. Sakurai had interviewed people who participated in wheelchair basketball when he was doing a TV feature on sports for the handicapped so he finds that it's meaningful to be able to participate in this drama which features such sports. However, he is worried about the wheelchair basketball scenes since he tried doing that before and it was a very tough experience for him. On the other hand, he is glad that he had played soccer up till he was in the second year of junior high so he should be able to manage the soccer scenes in the drama. Sakurai is expected to undergo training from Kyoya after the end of the Paralympics this year as the latter is away in Rio de Janeiro as the assistant coach for the wheelchair basketball team.
Sources: Sanspo / Cinema Today