So Japan has launched into an formidable challenge to extend accessibility for girls as coaches, referees and gamers, together with a said aim of registering 300,000 feminine gamers by 2030. The outcomes that Takakura is ready to generate on this summer season’s World Cup and subsequent 12 months’s Olympics little doubt might be very important towards reaching that aim.
“I’m sort of like a pioneer,” Takakura stated. “I want I is usually a good pioneer.”
Since being employed as Japan’s coach in 2016, Takakura has introduced 50 gamers into the nationwide workforce pool, together with a now 19-year-old ahead, Jun Endo. The method bought a lift, counterintuitively, from Japan’s failure to qualify for the 2016 Olympics solely a 12 months after reaching the World Cup ultimate.
When Japan didn’t qualify, the previous nationwide workforce star Homare Sawa, the 2011 World Cup winner thought-about Japan’s best participant, questioned whether or not the workforce’s gamers had enough need, saying, “I actually marvel what number of are on the market on the pitch dying to win, giving it their all for his or her workforce.”
The rebuke gave Takakura cowl to start refreshing her roster.
“We used to have simply the one group, and there’s a constructive and destructive facet to it,” Takakura stated of the adorned outdated guard. “They have been a great group; nonetheless, they’d been collectively for thus lengthy, they bought a bit of bit uninterested in it.”
The muse for Takakura’s renewal efforts was a youth improvement system and a Japanese tradition that allows women, from the age of 6 or 7, to apply 4 occasions every week, 52 weeks a 12 months, usually with and in opposition to boys, stated Tom Byer, an American who has labored on the grassroots degree of soccer in Japan for 30 years. By the point women are 12, Byer stated, it’s not unusual for them to play 100 video games a 12 months. The system produces younger gamers of exceptional technical talent.
In 2014, Takakura led Japan to the under-17 World Cup title. Final 12 months, Japan added the under-20 crown, turning into the one nation to win each ladies’s youth international championships and the senior World Cup.