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Saturday 16th July 2011 ko 2.30pm

Junior High School Friendly

HANNAN 3 (6 8 12)


Att 3 (h/c)

Entry FREE

No programme

Drinks via vending machines

@Tsurumi Ryokuchi Stadium, Tsurumi Ward, Osaka

Very much a case of get what you can. The park, Ryokuchi means Green Plaza by the way, is in the east of Osaka, and features swimming pools, cycling and jogging trails, and peaceful seating areas, although it is the flowers that have become the main attraction here. A massive attraction in Japan in early spring is gazing at the blossom, and Tsurumi Ryokuchi Park is a popular place to indulge the hobby.

As for the the Stadium well, it’s a municipal edifice originally built for American Football, but converted to 4G, and association rules. It’s huge given that the highest level of football regularly played there is the 4th tier Kansai League. The stadium was used for the 2001 East Asian games football tournament, together with the Nagai Number 1 stadium (Cerezo Osaka) and the Osaka Expo ’70 Stadium (Gamba Osaka). Nearby is a swimming pool, tennis courts, even the park’s own subway station. Pete and I were due to watch a Kansai League game there and soon discovered that it had been moved from the Saturday to the Monday, a public holiday, and all there was to watch was a friendly between 2 Junior High School teams.

Now at this point you may have picked up on the fact that this was at roughly midday and the authorities were asking teenagers to play at the height of the heat and humidity. After, all the professionals don’t play until the evening! In Japan football is a summer sport despite it being a northern hemisphere country. The reason is due to the fact that roughly 4 northern teams do get significant snow during winter, and so staging and travelling to games would be difficult. I’m bound to say that in a country renowned for its ingenuity, I’m surprised a work-around hasn’t been found as it was really very warm even to watch!

Well, it was truncated, but the game was perfectly watchable, and yes, it counts because what are the chances of me ever returning?