Posted 09 January 2012 - 10:02 PM
Congratulations to both of them, very happy for them.
And now all your love is wasted, and then who the hell was I?
Posted 10 January 2012 - 06:01 AM
Very few people embodied football in 2011 more than Sawa and Sasaki, the lead important figures on arguably the most inspirational team the sport saw last year. They definitely deserve their accolades, though I'm sure they'll want to share the spotlight with the rest of the Cup-winning squad.
Norio Sasaki and Homare Sawa won, respectively, Coach of the Year and Player of the Year Awards for women's football today at FIFA Gala. I can't think of two more deserving people to receive prizes in today's cerimony. If you think of the year Japan had and how much of a dark horse the NT was, it's almost unbelievable to actually think they managed to win the WC.
Congratulations to both of them, very happy for them.
Japan FA also won the Fair Play award for its efforts following the disaster in March. It's impossible to overstate how big a boost the Nadeshiko provided with their exploits in Germany, not to mention how much they've helped in terms of holding charity matches and relief efforts to the worst-hit areas. Both the men's and women's teams are by far the most popular and beloved in Japan, and their success has brought a lot of hope to a country that, frankly, could still use every encouragement it could get at this point.
Posted 10 January 2012 - 11:39 AM
I still can't get over the fact of how much of a wonderful football match that final was, probable one of the top 3 games of the year. The whole campaign of the NT was sensational, but man, that match was a great example of why people fall in love with football all the time.
And now all your love is wasted, and then who the hell was I?
Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:51 PM
Usami hit all 5 goals in Bayern's friendly in Qatar.
Posted 10 February 2012 - 05:11 AM
There's definitely more interest in J-League, and Japanese football in general, but as mentioned, you have to keep making yourself known in this game, both on and off the pitch.
The language barrier: Why Japanese football has struggled to internationalise and how it can recover
The sport has made great strides in the last decade, but much more needs to be done if the country expects to earn the same amount of recognition as its European peers
By Dan Orlowitz | Japan Football Editor
Impressive performances by Samurai Blue and Nadeshiko, an influx of their players into Europe, and the continent's most developed domestic league have combined to make Japan a center of attention in the footballing world. But despite this success, questions remain as to whether the country is prepared to take advantage of increased international interest.
J-League is hardly the first Japanese entity to have trouble understanding and adapting to foreign markets. Many of these problems come as a result of the language barrier; despite its status as the world's third-largest economy, Japan's English education regularly ranks among the worst in Asia.
Much of this has to do with the way the language is taught. Fluent English-speaking teachers are rare, forcing most schools to rely on low-paid foreigners who assist in classroom activities. With budgets strained in the midst of an unending recession, many school districts are either unwilling, unable, or uncertain of how to deal with the problem.
Yet the same Japanese children who struggle with the language are football fans, complete with Barcelona kits, Arsenal notebooks, and Inter pencil cases. European teams have transformed into global brands - now Japanese football must do the same. Here are four ways that they can accomplish this feat to the benefit of the players, the league, and the nation's footballing potential.
REACH OUT TO FOREIGN FANS
As foreign tourists regularly discover, few J-League clubs offer significant information in English on their websites while the rest simply don't bother with an English presence online. Gamba Osaka are a refreshing exception with an English-language ticketing service while Urawa Reds offer multimedia-rich news in English.
Considering how affordable J-League tickets are compared to European countries, this is a tourism opportunity waiting to be exploited. Even information as simple as English-language transit directions and stadium maps would allow both tourists and curious ex-pats to easily attend matches, helping clubs build a word-of-mouth following abroad.
ENCOURAGE ENGLISH FLUENCY AMONG PLAYERS
Stories of Japanese players who have gone overseas and failed to pick up the local language are far from uncommon, and the JFA and J-League must rectify this problem. Players active abroad must understand that they are the international face of Japanese football and should be able to communicate with both fans and media without a translator.
Domestically, teams should have at least one Japanese player capable of chatting with them in the mixed zone as foreign press are a growing presence at J-League matches. To encourage potential rookies to keep up their studies, the league could raise minimum salaries for players with high Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) scores.
WORK CLOSELY WITH MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Though few may realise it, the J-League and MLS are practically siblings. 'Born' just three years apart in countries where other sports dominated, the two leagues suffered lean periods in the early 2000s before periods of recovery and success. Both have knowledgable and passionate supporters and are starting to gain attention abroad.
Yet there is also much that the two sides can offer each other. The J-League could study MLS's enthusiastic adoption of social media in attracting new fans while giving American stars an established league where they can shine. MLS, for its part, would benefit throughly from observing Japanese youth academies, while presenting Japanese players who desire to play abroad a safe environment in which to grow. Add sponsorship opportunities to the mix, and this potential pan-Pacific alliance could only help both leagues grow further.
LOOK OUTSIDE BRAZIL FOR INTERNATIONAL TALENT
A long-established network of scouts, coaches, and translators have combined over the years to make Brazil the biggest exporter of foreign players to Japan. While many undoubtedly-talented players have had long careers in J-League, recently failures have outnumbered successes. Proven talents such as Gamba's Adriano and FC Tokyo's Cabore are quickly been snatched up by Middle Eastern sides with greater financial muscle.
J-League clubs must realise that there is an entire world of talent beyond Brazil and, if they expand their scouting, they will be rewarded with not only a diversified league but increased international attention. While this may be the most difficult proposal to accomplish, it would show that the league is ready to change and take on the world.
Posted 11 March 2012 - 02:27 PM
(CNN) -- If there is anyone who embodies the fighting spirit of Japan's disaster-laden year, it is Homare Sawa.
The 33-year-old is the captain of Japan's women's soccer team who lifted the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany last June. Despite being huge underdogs her team made it through to the final of the tournament where they beat the highly fancied United States.
Before the competition began the team had little financial backing and was practically ignored by the Japanese public still reeling from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
So when the Japanese talk about "ganbaro" (Japanese for standing firm in the face of unspeakable odds), Sawa's success is a shining example of how it's possible.
"We fought for ourselves and for Japan," says Sawa.
Before the matches at the World Cup, Japan's coach showed the team images of tsunami-devastated towns where nearly 20,000 people perished.
"It was hard to believe the images were of Japan. I became very sad, even though it was right before our matches. The images urged us to move forward as a team and we strongly felt that we had to get to the finals. We were very thankful that we could play soccer when there are many people affected by the earthquake," says Sawa.
As the team progressed through the competition, the final loomed against the U.S.. Japan had not managed to beat the Americans in 25 previous matches.
"For some strange reason, I just didn't feel like we could lose ," says Sawa.
"I'm not sure why, perhaps a sixth sense. It wasn't just me either. My teammates were also feeling like we couldn't lose. Maybe we felt this way because Japan was giving us power."
Across Japan, fans watched in the early morning hours, crying and screaming as their team won against all the odds.
The fairy tale wasn't over for Sawa, who was recently named FIFA's female player of the year.
It was the high point of a career spent toiling in a sport that's unappreciated in Japan and underfunded by sponsors.
Around 25,000 girls play football in Japan, but there are no professional leagues for women. Sawa herself played on a boy's team. The pay gap between the genders is stark and most of the members of Sawa's World Cup team have full time jobs and could only train in the evenings. Sawa now sees that lack of opportunity as an asset.
"Thinking back now, my technique probably improved because I played with boys and perhaps I became mentally stronger, too, because I didn't want to lose to them," she says.
Sawa emerged as a gifted athlete, making her first international debut at the age of 15.
She says she believed she would be married by the age of 28 and have children. But the dream of being the world's best player kept her on the pitch.
That dream has been achieved and Sawa is now looking ahead to the Olympic Games in London.
She hopes the disparity between men's and women's teams in Japan will close if her team can bring home a medal.
"If we can do well at the Olympics, maybe some players may switch from having to work full-time to part-time."
When asked if she feels she is a national symbol, Sawa laughs and shakes her head. "No, no, no. Not at all," she says.
She acknowledges that her win inspired Japanese fans and she does offer advice to young girls who want to achieve in sport.
"It has been a long time since I set the goal of winning the World Cup and I want to communicate the importance of having a goal," she said. "It's easy for people to want to see results quickly, but it takes time. I'd encourage them to keep at it."
Posted 22 July 2012 - 11:58 PM
In Japan, winning a world title earns you a seat at the back of the bus, er, plane.
The Japanese women’s soccer team flew to Europe Sunday on the same flight as the men’s team. While the women crammed into coach seats, the men’s team scored seats in business class. As it stands, this would be an injustice, but here’s the kicker: The women are world champions; the men are, well, not as successful.
The Nadeshiko, as the women’s team is known, won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup last summer, beating out the U.S. team in a spectacular final. Just months after the country’s devastating earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis, the team’s victory brought hope to its battered compatriots, and the women were welcomed back from the final as heroes.
A year later, that inspiration seems to have been forgotten, at least by the Japanese Football Association, who saidthe men’s and women’s teams had left Tokyo on the same flight without any mention of the seating inequality. London’s The Guardian reported the women’s team’s reactions:
‘I guess it should have been the other way around,’ Homare Sawa, the team’s star player, told Japanese media. ‘Even just in terms of age, we are senior,’ she joked.
Nadeshiko’s success last year and their continued achievements (they beat Australia, the 10th-ranked team in the world, 3-0 last week in an international friendly) has sparked conversation about their gold medal possibilities. The team is ranked No. 3 in the world, behind the U.S. and Germany. The men’s team is No. 20 and not expected to medal in London.
There’s some hope for more leg room: The JFA says that if the women’s team proves its worth with a medal, the players will fly business class on the return flight to Japan. The last time Nadeshiko flew business class was after their World Cup win, when the JFA thought it acceptable to upgrade their seats. Whether or not the men’s team medals, the men will enjoy seats further up in the cabin.
Is there any confirmation about this? If it's true, are you fucking kidding me? It would be an absolute disgrace to the sport if they actually had the balls to do this with that amazing Women NT.
And now all your love is wasted, and then who the hell was I?
Posted 27 July 2012 - 12:19 PM
There was a big Japanese presence in the 37,000+ fans who turned up for the second game. The majority of fans though had turned up expecting to see a footballing master class from a Spain squad that featured recognisable names like de Gea, Mata, Javi Martinez and Alba. However Spain never really got into the flow you've come to expect from their teams in recent years. I don't think I've ever seen a Spain team hit so many long/high balls before.
Japan I thought were brilliant at times. They were organised and defended well but didn't allow themselves to be pushed back too deep. They really put the Spanish players under pressure at all times and a lot of the Japanese chances came from this harrying and harassing. Spain had Inigo Martinez sent off thanks to the pressure the Spanish defence were finding themselves under. I thought number 11 for Japan was their stand out player - Kensuke Nagai. He put in an amazing shift. Japan did miss about 4 or 5 really good chances in the second half and I did wonder if Spain would punish their wastefulness even though they were down to 10 men.
There was one boy in front of me who was wearing a full Spain kit. During the second half he turned to his mum and dad and said he was going to sell his Spain top and get a Japanese one instead. His dad replied "You're just a wee glory hunter aren't you?" I think everyone left the game with a lot of respect for the Japan team and no one could argue they didn't deserve their win.
Alfredo Di Stefano - "Aberdeen have what money can't buy; a soul, a team spirit built in a family tradition."
The Aberdeen Thread - Scotlands No1 Team in Red & White
Posted 22 August 2012 - 10:36 PM
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's Olympic medallists brought downtown Tokyo to a standstill on Monday in an open-top bus victory parade witnessed by around 500,000 flag and fan-waving supporters.
The convoy of five buses caused gridlock as fans and shoppers in Tokyo's upmarket Ginza district help celebrate Japan's record haul of 38 medals (seven gold, 14 silver and 17 bronze) at the London Olympics.
People working in offices above street level leant precariously out of windows to cheer as the athletes navigated through a vast sea of supporters in Japan's first Olympic celebratory parade of its kind.
Attended by 71 of the country's 76 medallists in total, the athletes, sporting their red Olympic jackets, waved as fans crammed the pavement in sweltering summer heat and screamed their names and messages of congratulations.
One athlete carried placards in support of the northeast region of Japan devastated by last year's deadly tsunami.
"Japan's sportsmen and women have done so much to lift spirits since last year's disaster," 33-year-old sales assistant Yurie Miyajima told Reuters. "They were fantastic in London."
Some of the biggest cheers were reserved for the Japanese women's soccer team, who took the silver medal in London after their stunning World Cup success in Germany last year.
Japan's 'Nadeshiko' team - named after a frilly pink carnation - had come to embody the spirit of a nation battling to recover from the tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.
Posted 08 July 2013 - 05:18 PM
Posted 09 July 2013 - 04:25 PM
What league is he playing in?
Japanese second division, with Yokohama FC
Posted 12 February 2014 - 03:03 PM
As J League welcomes exciting arrival of Diego Forlan, will Japan fans be treated to success in Rio?
Japan is in the minority of being a country that will have a league in mid-season when the World Cup kicks off. Whether that is an advantage or a disadvantage can be debated but, with a large percentage of the Samurai Blue squad expected to be selected from those based in Europe anyway, it may well be a moot point.
Of those European-based players, all the talk is centred on Keisuke Honda who finally got his dream move to AC Milan last month. Hopefully he will continue to get plenty of field time and be raring to go in Brazil.
In England, Maya Yoshida at Southampton has been getting more game time recently, mainly, perhaps, due to the injury to Dejan Lovren but Shinji Kagawa is yet to establish himself this season at Manchester United.
In Germany, at FC Nuremberg, Japan captain Makoto Hasebe underwent an operation in January but is scheduled to be fully recovered by the end of February.
Meanwhile, in Japan, at Cerezo Osaka, midfielder Hotaru Yamaguchi is in pole position to be the likely replacement for Hasebe (if he does not recover from his injury in time) and has been made captain of his club team.
I believe that the armband will make Yamaguchi mature and improve as a player who is destined for a major role in the national team in the future.
Talking of the captaincy, Yuto Nagatomo has also been intermittently taking the responsibility at Inter Milan, while the Samurai Blue's record holder when it comes to appearances - Yasuhito Endo - is also the team captain at Gamba Osaka this season.
So while there will be plenty of leadership and experience heading to Brazil for Japan's fifth World Cup appearance - it remains to be seen which of the youngsters, and less obvious choices, will make a case for their selection in the coming months.
However, the biggest news to come out of the J-League during pre-season has been the arrival of Uruguay's Diego Forlan.
The former Manchester United striker has presumably has not come just for the huge payday reported, but also will be giving his all to ensure he too is on the plane to Brazil with some of his Cerezo team-mates.
With Forlan's arrival the J League can look forward to excitement in the coming season. Will the fans of the national team get be treated to the same in the summer?
Forlan posing with the "Osaka City" scarf (the 'City' bit is a dig at their cross-town rivals Gamba, who are based in the suburbs of Osaka)