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JFA Tohoku Reconstruction Support Project - April 2014 Report by TEGURAMORI Hiroshi, national training centre coach

09 May 2014

JFA Tohoku Reconstruction Support Project - April 2014 Report by TEGURAMORI Hiroshi, national training centre coach

The PALCOHOME Junior Football Championship was held on 12 and 13 April at Tsunagi Multipurpose Field in Tsunagi-Chiku of Morioka City. This championship has been held by PALCOHOME, which also sponsors Grulla Morioka of J3, at Morioka Minami Park Soccer Field since 2007. Since the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, clubs in the coastal regions in Iwate Prefecture have been invited to play in the championship. As sports facilities in Iwate Prefecture have been reorganized nowadays for the National Sports Festival in 2016, this championship was held as the grand opening event of the Tsunagi Multipurpose Field.

This year, four clubs were invited, Ofunato Sanriku FC, Kamaishi FC, Takada FC and FC Miyako Phoenix. The players stepped on the field, being thankful for the opportunity. Kamaishi FC won the championship. The team’s coach, Ishiguro Tadatoshi, expressed his emotion, saying “We appreciate for the invitation to this PALCO cup. I think this win gives players so much confidence.”

On the same day, Grulla Morioka of the J3, which is based in the city of Morioka, played an exhibition match there. The young players were so excited to watch the dynamic plays by their local professional players.

Grulla Morioka have been very supportive since soon after the earthquake and tsunami and helped the children in the region. They visited people there, provided food and supplies, and held football clinics together with the Japan Pro-Footballers Association and the Tohokujin Spirit, which is a J-League players’ group privately established to help out the Tohoku region. Ota Ryo, the team’s team operation staff, says even though the schedule is busier than before due to the promotion to the J3, the team are still actively engaging in various support activities including inviting children of the region to the home opener (on 23 March), which Grulla got a victory. They are also planning to keep inviting such children to the home matches, let them enjoy the “Escort Kids” experience, and give them opportunities to play matches prior to Grulla’s home matches. They just want to keep giving support to the children.

Grulla’s captain, Matsuda Kenta, says “It has been three years since the earthquake and tsunami. Some of the infrastructure like streets and buildings have been reconstructed and it looks the recovery process is moving forward. But there are still a lot of people living in inconvenient temporary housings. Those housings are built on the school playgrounds, so kids can’t use them to play or play sports. We didn’t experience the earthquake there, so it may be inconsiderate that we talk about what happened, but we hope our football clinics and other volunteer activities help out the people in the region even just a little. More than anything, we hope children, who have all the potential and bright future, will get back the places where they can enjoy sports as soon as possible.”

On the other hand, Ishiguro of Kamaishi FC expressed their appreciation, saying “the FIFA and the JFA helped to build the football field with artificial turf and now we can fully utilise the facility. Grulla have been very supportive by, for example, teaching football to children and inviting us to their J3 home opener last year.”

Shirae Takeharu, the head coach of Takada FC which were also invited to play in the championship, added his comments. “After the earthquake and tsunami, I didn’t expect it but I took the head coaching position. Even fixing match schedules was very difficult. That’s when Grulla gave us the invitation to the PALCOHOME CUP and it helped us a lot. This is our third time to play in this championship. We could play against good teams on this new field with nice artificial turf. The children played their best, and I am really thankful.”

It is very encouraging for a local professional club, which kids love and admire, to think about helping the region and actually visit there to see how the region is living their life. Grulla just started playing in J3 from this year, but we hope they will keep playing good matches as the symbol of the region’s recovery.

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