The Top Team
This year the J2 League kicked off on March 8, and Omiya Ardija’s first opponent of the season was Zweigen Kanazawa, last year’s J3 champion in the league’s inaugural 2014 season. Omiya struggled against the tight Kanazawa defense, but an 86th-minute goal by Akihiro Ienaga put them in the lead and Omiya clutched a victory with a 1-0 final score. The next match-up for Omiya was against Cerezo Osaka, who was relegated from J1. With Dragan Mrdja and Akihiro Ienaga out of the game with injuries, Omiya allowed a goal early in the second half, but came back with a Hiroyuki Komoto equalizer. However, Omiya conceded goals again in the 90th minute and during additional time, losing 1-3. It was a bitter reminder of the tough competition in the J2 League.
Omiya’s youth team was promoted this season to the top youth league, the “Prince Takamado Trophy All Japan Youth (U-18) Premier Football League EAST.” According to the announcement of the league schedule, the season opener will take place on April 11, and the 18th and final match will be played on December 6. The Omiya Ardija youth team will meet a heavyweight in the commemorative opening match: last year’s Premier League EAST champion, Kashiwa Reysol U-18. Meanwhile, Omiya’s junior youth team is playing in the 2015 Kanto Youth (U-15) Soccer League 1st Division, which has started on March 1 and will run until October 17. The 12 participating clubs play a home-and-away round-robin tournament. The result of Omiya’s U-15 team after three matches is 1 win, 1 loss, and 1 draw.
The Omiya Ardija Soccer School is currently accepting applicants for 2015. There are 11 locations with about 1,800 children enrolled, from kindergarten (middle and senior classes) and first-grade students as well as second to sixth graders. Participants can choose the class that suits their level and objective. There are many events and benefits organized and the school offers a great experience for kids, so don’t miss the chance to sign up. On March 29, a graduation ceremony was held for members graduating from the school this March. The ceremony took place on the pitch of Omiya Ardija’s home stadium, NACK 5 Stadium Omiya, before the match against Consadore Sapporo.
Last year Omiya Ardija started carrying out football coaching classes for children in Southeast Asia as part of the club’s CSR activities and to promote international friendship. Following the coaching class organized in Laos and Thailand last October, this year, with the cooperation of JCB Co., Ltd., and Sportsmanship Asia Soccer School, a session was held from March 14 to 17 in Indonesia featuring the U-12 coach, Haruki Nishimura, and Project Manager, Toshiyuki Akimoto. 131 Japanese and local elementary school students gathered at the Jakarta Japanese School ground on the 15th, and about 100 elementary and junior high school students, both local and Japanese, participated in the football coaching class held at the Bali Beach Hotel football field on the 17th.