J-Village resumes full operation with hopes to become symbol of reconstruction
22 April 2019
On Saturday 20 April, “J-Village Grand Open Fes! -To the future-” took place at J-Village in Fukushima, as the venue resumed its full operation on this day.
The grand opening ceremony was conducted under the attendance of Her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado, as J-VILLAGE Inc. CEO UCHIBORI Masao, who is also the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture, took the podium as the organiser of the event. Mayor MATSUMOTO Yukiei of Naraha Town, Mayor ENDO Satoshi of Hirono Town, Minister of Reconstruction WATANABE Hiromichi, Parliament Chairman YOSHIDA Eiko of Fukushima Prefecture, and Japan Football Association (JFA) President TASHIMA Kohzo, each made their appearance onto the podium.
In 1997, J-Village was founded in Fukushima as the nation’s first ever National Football Centre. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, the venue was utilised as the support base for the nuclear power plant accident and lost its function as the football centre. However, in July 2018, J-Village was re-established to serve its original purpose, as the venue resumed part of their operation to facilitate training camps and tournaments for Nadeshiko Japan, and various underage categories of the national team. Upon resuming its full operation, CEO Uchibori of J-VILLAGE Inc. shared his gratitude by stating, “From the pitch, we can now hear the voices of the children who will lead the future. Nadeshiko Japan and other athletes, both from our nation and abroad, are holding training camps. We have once again taken steps forward as the holy land of football.” Following the announcement that J-Village will be the starting point of the torch relay for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics held in Tokyo, Mr. Uchibori continued by mentioning, “We hope to transmit the message all over the world that any adversity can be conquered.” JFA President Tashima explained that the J-Village is an imperative piece for the development of Japanese football, as he shared his thoughts, “It is our job to provide not only the tangible factors, but also the intangible factors for the J-Village. With the support of many people, we will continue to spread the message to the world.”
As part of the grand opening festival, 38 restaurants from Fukushima gathered at the venue to host the “Marriage of Fukushima Food and Liquor.” An event targeting U-7/U-9/U-11 players, the MS&AD soccer MAMA CUP, and other events like bubble football, school trial lessons, game corners were featured at the festival. On the special stage, live comedy shows, talk shows, and special live shows were performed by various celebrities.
On this day for the grand opening of J-Village, the JR Joban Line opened a temporal station named “J-Village Station” to allow many people to attend the event.
The locals who participated in the event shared their hopes that the J-Village can become an icon of reconstruction, as they mentioned, “It was a moving sight to see so many people gathered,” “This is a wonderful event. I have so much hope for the renovated J-Village,” “We hope that this will spread the words of Fukushima to many people.”
UCHIBORI Masao, CEO of J-VILLAGE Inc./Governor of Fukushima Prefecture
J-Village was founded in 1997 and attracted over 500,000 people per year until the Great East Japan Earthquake struck the area. Following the earthquake, the venue served its role as the support base for the nuclear power plant accident, but starting from last July, the renovated J-Village has resumed part of its operation. The all-weather training field opened in September, and just recently the restoration of pitch number seven and eight completed to allow us to announce our grand opening. I would like to share my sincere gratitude towards all the people involved, and all the supporters of J-Village. It has been determined that J-Village will be the starting point of the torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which means that the torch relay for the “Reconstruction Olympics” will be initiated from our prefecture’s iconic symbol of reconstruction. I am very delighted to be able to transmit the message all over the world that any adversity can be conquered. We will soon welcome the new era of “Reiwa.” In this new era, we hope that J-Village can serve as the region’s core to promote sports and contribute to the revitalisation of the entire Fukushima prefecture.
TASHIMA Kohzo, JFA President
In the past 20 years, the level of football in Japan has developed in a historical pace. During that span, J-Village has served a pivotal role, as the national team members polished their techniques, young players were developed, and the coaches and referees were trained here at this location. J-Village is an essential piece for the growth of the Japanese football community, both in the past and in the future. Today, I am very grateful to be welcoming the grand opening of this venue. However, we still need your support. It is still uncertain if the football players and sports fans will come here each day. We are not sure if many people will make their ways to this venue using the J-Village Station. We have so many tasks to address ahead of us. In 2021, the JFA Academy Fukushima boys’ team will return to this venue, followed by the girl’s team in 2024. Our true goal is to fill this place with many people and create an atmosphere filled with children’s laughter. J-Village is a venue we can proudly present to the world. We hope to spread the words and make this place a venue where everyone can gather.
Mr. NISHIMAGI Susumu (ESTRELLAS/Koriyama City, Fukushima)
Today we brought our kids under fourth grade to participate in the junior football tournament (MS&AD soccer MAMA CUP). We entered two teams each in the U-9 and U-11 category. The U-9 kids usually don’t get to play many scrimmages in their daily training sessions, so today they looked so happy to play in a match. The parents looked delighted as well, especially after their kids won the tournament. This event was like a festival, and the young kids were having the time of their lives. The pitch condition of the natural grass and artificial grass fields were great at J-Village. The kids who were affected by the earthquake are now in second grade of junior high school. Many of these kids were not allowed to play outside back then, and over half of our team members left the region to live in other locations. We are now seeing new kids moving into the region. Last year we were able to take the prefectural title in the U-12 category, so we hope to continue on that feat and develop many good players from Fukushima.
Mr. SAKAMOTO Hiroshi (Naraha Town Department of Reconstruction Promotion)
The concept of “Marriage of Fukushima Food and Liquor” was to attract many people, regardless of their age or interest in football, to this wonderful facility of J-Village. Another key aspect of this event was to get the local people and companies involved to create an atmosphere that we are all in it together. This is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to enjoy not only in this area, but the entire Fukushima prefecture. J-Village has always been a symbolic venue for Naraha Town, Hama-dori, and Fukushima prefecture, but following the great earthquake, it became more of a reconstruction symbol. The reopening of this venue is huge for this area’s economical and populational revitalisation.
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