“We will carry everyone’s hope and fight until the very end” Interview with Coach Takakura (2nd half) - FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019
15 May 2019
The FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019 will kick off on Friday 7 June. With the Nadeshiko Japan (Japan Women’s National Team) seeking for their second World Cup title in three tournaments, we interviewed Coach TAKAKURA Asako on the significance of the World Cup.
――You have led your team to win the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2014. In your perspective, what is the key to win international tournaments?
Takakura It is very important to keep an eye on the team’s ups and downs throughout the duration of a long tournament. It means that you must be aware of the players’ conditions at all times. It is also important that the team is showing progress through each and every match. Especially in this year’s World Cup, I believe that every team has the potential to make a deep run. With that being said, if I can manage to stay on top of the team’s and players’ changes, and guide them towards the right direction, positive results should follow.
――What kind of significance does the World Cup have on women’s football in Japan?
Takakura We saw a drastic change when the Nadeshiko Japan won the title in 2011. The team gained wide recognition and the Nadeshiko Japan left an impression of being a strong team. At the same time, the team had to bear the expectation from the public, where everyone expected the team to be in contention to win the title. Japan was the first country to win the World Cup in three different categories (Nadeshiko Japan, U-20, and U-17), and the entire world is paying attention to our country. However, we do not possess the dominance of which the USA and Germany have showcased in the past. We are in a position where our matches are often times won in small margins as a result of delicate layers of strategies. Winning the second World Cup title is a very difficult task, but with the team consisting many young players, our potential cannot be measured until the tournament actually kicks-off. That is an aspect I am very excited to find out. Personally, I don’t have any worries about our team. We will try to convert all the circumstances to our advantage, so that we can once again raise the Champion’s trophy with our hands.
――The biggest change you saw since Japan won the World Cup in 2011?
Takakura The mentality of the younger players changed quite a bit. At the time, I was working closely with the under-category teams. The young players who are currently on our roster watched SAWA Homare raise the trophy in real time, and they must have thought, “One day we will achieve the same feat.” As seen with the U-17 Japan Women’s National Team, it became a norm to strive for the world title, which was something unthinkable back when I was a player. But with higher goals comes higher standards, and I think the sense of urgency to work harder has spread throughout the women’s football community.
――What significance does this World Cup have on the future development of women’s football in Japan?
Takakura With Japan reaching the final in the past two tournaments, every player is carrying a strong intention to win the title. However, the team is currently ranked 7th in the FIFA rankings, and we do not possess the kind of dominance that allows us to breeze through our opponents, so we must face each match with great care. Additionally, if one or two players can rise to the occasion and become our “Lucky girl,” our chances to win the title can increase. If we can win this World Cup, all women’s football players can once again dream of becoming the world champions, make more people want to support the team, and feed off the energy to go about their daily lives. I am a strong believer that sports have that kind of power, and we are hoping to give back to many people through the sport of football. That is another motivation for us to achieve something big.
――A message to all the supporters of the Nadeshiko Japan.
Takakura It’s easy to say, “We will become the world champions,” but with all the countries and players giving all they’ve got in this tournament, it is not a simple task to achieve such feat. In behalf of everyone involved in women’s football, we will carry everyone’s hopes and efforts, and fight strong as a united team, so please send us your power. Even in difficult matches, please don’t lose your faith in our players and give them a supportive push.
――The Nadeshiko Japan has taught us the importance of never giving up.
Takakura I think so too. Even in difficult matches, even when they are down by a big margin, they will fight until the final whistle. We were down by many goals in the last World Cup final, but the players kept running hard until the end. We will continue to showcase that spirit, so please fight with us.
FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019
Tournament Dates: Fri. 7 June - Sun. 7 July 2019
Tue. 11 June 2019 01:00 (Japan time)
vs Argentina Women's National Team
Fri. 14 June 2019 22:00 (Japan time)
vs Scotland Women's National Team
Thu. 20 June 2019 04:00 (Japan time)
vs England Women's National Team
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