I have to admit that the following story took me a bit by surprise because while I have coached women's soccer for eight years, I had never heard of this special award heaped upon the Women's Japanese National Soccer team after their stunning triumph at the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germant versus the team from the USA.
Who knew that this award existed? Apparently plenty of people... oh well... it's tough for a blogger who doesn't have a specific focus when it comes to Japan, but instead tries to provide entertainment from a plethora of sources.
Back on August 19, 2011 - a full month after Japan hoisted the World Cup (on July 17, 2011) - the Nadeshiko (the nickname of the women's soccer team) was officially recognized at Tokyo's National Stadium when Japanese Football Association president Ogura Junji and Women's team captain Sawa Homare were presented the FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions Badge.
The framed badge features the image of the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy and the text "FIFA World Champions 2011".
Presented by FIFA executive committee member and Asian Football Confederation acting president Zhang Jilong and legendary former China forward Sun Wen, who was named FIFA Women’s Player of the Century in 2000 (she seven goals at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1999 and won both the Adidas Golden Shoe and Golden Ball trophies.
FIFA president Joseph S. Blatter also congratulated the Japanese team: “Today is an important day for Japan. The Japanese team combined attractive passing football with real tenacity. Despite twice going behind to the USA, they emerged victorious to become the first FIFA Women’s World Cup champions from Asia. After the terrible natural disaster that occurred in March earlier this year, I know this victory was all the more uplifting for the people in Japan. This badge is a gesture of both respect and recognition for the national team’s wonderful achievement.”
Later that night, the Nadeshiko played a charity soccer match against an all-star team from the Japan Woman's Football League to aid reconstruction efforts following the Great East Japan 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami. Nadeshiko members wore the FIFA World Champions Badge on their jerseys , and will continue to wear the badge for every national team match until the final whistle of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 to be held in Canada.
“This is the very first Champions Badge for Japan and it is a great honour for all of us in the football family that our national team will play with the badge for the next four years,” states JFA president Ogura Junji. “I hope Nadeshiko Japan will do their best to continue playing their style of football which impressed so many people at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, expressing the beauty of football throughout the world.”