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[CLUB STORY] U13 & U15 Kanagawa Leagues

Why the official Japanese Leagues?

In comparison to international schools competition, the Japanese leagues are more challenging. Teams get promoted and relegated across divisions. Pro-academies, big and smaller clubs, and school teams participate. They last longer, too, with ~16 games a season.

For all players, there is an opportunity to learn from Japanese football and play at a good level to prepare for their future whether it is to continue to play in Japan or in their home countries, join a soccer program in High School or University, or even try to go pro.

For the best Japanese players of each team, there is an opportunity to participate in the selections at the prefectural/regional/national levels. This year, some FC NOMADE players went to the first round of the selections. The exposure for players is bigger in official leagues.

It is very exciting to play in the Japanese leagues with teams and players as diverse as ours. Our mix of Japanese and Western styles is unique in the league. For all, the experience is beyond sports and competition, and it is also a cultural and educational experience.

Our Goals have always been to create an environment for players to learn and improve, enjoy the game, grow as individuals, and for all to use soccer to create future life opportunities for themselves.

Photo from the 2019 season in the U15 Kanagawa League. Football x Fuji-san.

Why Kanagawa?

2018 | Alliance with the DSTY Eagles (German School Tokyo Yokohama)

In 2018, we decide to start an alliance with the DSTY Eagles (German School located in Yokohama), which had registered a U15 team in the Kanagawa League. We saw it as a good opportunity for our growing U12 and U13 players to participate in official competitions.

In 2019, the number of our players inside the team had increased and FC NOMADE started to be the official coaching staff, while the team remained "DSTY Eagles" and kept playing with the school uniforms.

Photo from the 2019 season.

2020 | The U13 team is registered

As FC NOMADE had taken the management of the U15 team and many U12s had moved up to the U13s, the club decided to register a U13 team in the league as well. Both U13 and U15 teams kept playing with the DSTY Eagles' name and uniforms for another year.

The transition between the U12 and U13 football is quite big and is an important step for the players. The U13 team has allowed the club to structure its soccer program, and prepare the players more progressively for the U15 and all the way to the U18 teams.

The main changes are the size of the pitch (~100m x ~60m), and the physical and tactical aspects of the game. Also, there are 4 divisions in the league, which gives a sense of promotion/relegation and increases the competition between and inside the teams.

2021 | Name changes to FC NOMADE, new uniforms

Since the 2021 season, the team has changed its name to FC NOMADE while staying in the Kanagawa League. The main reason is that favorable conditions were previously accepted by the league such as no game to be played during the summer break (usually on-season for all).

FC NOMADE's first uniform is sky blue/white. The second uniform became white/red to mark the collaboration with the DSTY Eagles.

2022 | Alliance with the Japan German Football Academy (JGFA)

In 2022, we start an alliance with the Japan German Football Academy (JGFA). The good players of the academy would practice weekly with them and join FC NOMADE on the weekends for the games. Once helped, now our turn. We're simply stronger together.

Alliances, collaborations, or joint clubs are very rare in the city (and maybe in Japan). But connecting people through sports, and helping each other within the international sports community was always part of our Philosophy and Goals.

Challenges for the club

There are hundreds of academies, clubs, and school teams around. All share the same sports grounds and parks as there are not so many of them. They are also difficult to secure due to the lottery reservation systems (the bigger the clubs, the better the odds for the lotteries).

The Kanagawa Football Association - which only owns one ground in the prefecture - puts pressure on the club teams to find and secure other grounds so that the league games can go on. The schools with grounds mostly support it. There is a lack of sports infrastructure.

This has become a reason for the league to be particularly strict with club teams by telling them to be reliable with the schedule, ensure enough players, and not cancel games or risk being excluded from the competition. The league is an opportunity not to lose for our players.

For the club, this means we need a large group of players every season. To have one, we need to attract passionate and motivated players by promoting the benefits of sports education outside of school, creating a culture for the club, and improving our results on the pitch.

We hope FC NOMADE keeps bringing more talented Japanese and non-Japanese players together to play in the leagues, and also become a reference for soccer outside of the schools and for the international community in Japan.

We will continue our journey in the Japanese Leagues as our U13s enter the second stage of the 2022 season on Saturday 12th of November, while our U15s will try to keep up their recent good results and get a 4th or 5th position in the group K on Sunday 13th.

Photo 1: U13 team / Photo 2: U15 team / Photo 3: U15 team traveling to a game


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