FC Ryukyu in Koza

The new football (soccer) season was delayed in Japan this year because of the major earthquake which occurred in March but has now been in progress for several weeks. Okinawa’s only professional team, FC Ryukyu, are members of the Japan Football League (JFL).  The JFL is the third tier of football in Japan. FC Ryukyu were founded as recently as 2003 but despite their short history all at the club are eager to progress higher to the J.League proper and the immediate aim is to gain promotion to the 2nd Division as quickly as possible. Up to now the team has fallen some way short of the top four finish necessary to apply for promotion. However, this season has started very promisingly and Ryukyu went into yesterday’s home match against the Kyushu team Honda Lock as the unexpected early league leaders.

The teams come out flanked by the Ryukyu Bomberz

As a lifelong football supporter this year could hardly have been better for me with my hometown team Norwich City being promoted to the English Premier League, and so my ideal would be for my adopted team FC Ryukyu to make it a double success. Yesterday’s match was played in sweltering heat in Koza (Okinawa City) with the temperature once again at 32 degrees. The pre-match entertainment was provided by Chibana Seinenkai, a local youth group who put on a fine performance of eisa drumming and dancing – that most traditional of Okinawan summer entertainment. In complete contrast, the half-time show at Ryukyu’s matches is usually provided by the team’s own American style cheerleaders the Ryukyu Bomberz who often dance to hip-hop tracks. I was reminded of the Nenes song ‘America dori’, written by Sadao China, which celebrates the many different cultures and the champloo mix to be found in Koza.

Meeting FC Ryukyu's Kazuki Ganaha

Before the match I briefly met Ryukyu’s pre-season top signing, 30 year old forward Kazuki Ganaha, who was kept busy signing autographs for the fans. Ganaha was the first Okinawan player to represent Japan at international level and joined Ryukyu after a disappointing spell at 1st Division Vissel Kobe. He decided to return to his native Okinawa and was prepared to drop down two divisions in order to accept FC Ryukyu’s offer rather than try his luck at a bigger club in Japan. For some reason he has not been playing regularly since coming to Ryukyu and was not selected again yesterday. Whether this is because of injury or loss of form is not clear – and I’m afraid I wasn’t brave enough to ask him.

FC Ryukyu could perhaps have done with Ganaha’s services yesterday as they were eventually beaten 2-0 by a very good and well organized Honda Lock team who had to play the entire second half with ten men after a sending off. It’s still tight at the top though with FC Ryukyu slipping to 3rd place but just a point behind the leaders.

Chibana Seinenkai eisa performance


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2 Comments on “FC Ryukyu in Koza”

  1. Julie Says:

    Hi, Glad you are enjoying the football.
    I meant to send you an email about Norwich – Delia was very happy! It is good to keep up with what is happening in your part of the world.
    Have a good week.
    Julie


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