Japan FA opens new Academy in Fukushima

The JFA Academy Fukushima, is a new school established by the Japan Football Association with the cooperation of Fukushima Prefecture and three towns from the prefecture in order to raise top Japan players. The opening ceremony, held at a hall in Tomioka, was attended by JFA honorary patron Princess Takamado, Fukushima Governor Eisaku Sato and JFA president Saburo Kawabuchi, as well as JFA ambassador and former Japan international Masami Ihara, the JFA reported.

For the inaugural year, 17 boys in the first year of junior high school and 23 girls, from the first year of junior high through the first year of high school, out of a total of 202 applicants, successfully passed the entrance selection. "I hope you will work hard with the pride of having been selected and with modesty, and become a player who can represent Japan and the world," Kawabuchi said in a speech at the ceremony.

The Academy, headed by JFA technical director Kozo Tashima as school master, was designed with the hopes of "raising top-class players with a cosmopolitan sense".

All the students will stay at a residential hall and go to schools in the area for academic studies while taking football lessons at the J. Village national training center under the guidance of JFA authorized coaches, with former Institut National du Football chief Claude Dusseau serving as special coach. The INF produced leading players such as Thierry Henry and Nicolas Anelka and has become a model for the JFA Academy.

"The Academy is one of the things we (JFA) are obliged to start in order to meet the promise of making it into the top 10 in the world, which we stated in the 2005 Declaration," Tashima commented. "We won't get the results immediately, but we should try our hardest."