This story makes me very happy. Ever since their World Cup victory, the Japanese Women’s League has been experiencing a major boom in popularity. Homare Sawa in particular has become (deservedly) a national icon. This triumph came from years of groundwork resulting in the spectacular performance at the World Cup both in results and in style.
My first thought when I read this story was about the WUSA, the American women’s league that arrived in the wake of the 1999 World Cup and which folded a few year later. It’s not a fair comparison though, if for no other reason than because the WUSA had huge ambitions whereas Japan’s women’s league has been somewhat more modest. Japan’s league was also in a position to capitalize off of the Nadeshiko triumph (much like the WPS is trying to do), whereas the WUSA began after the World Cup buzz had started to fade.
One hopes that this will be the start of great things to come for Japan. The nation is football-mad, and the women’s team’s triumph came at a time when Japan so desperately needed good news. Japan were deserved winners of the World Cup, but the real reward should be a popular and sustainable league.
Something that one hopes to see all around the world, World Cup victory or no.