Sawa ready for new challenge

Kyodo News

Veteran Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa has left NTV Beleza to join the Washington Freedom in the U.S. Women’s Professional Soccer league, Beleza announced Friday.

The 30-year-old Sawa, who helped Japan to a fourth-place finish at last summer’s Beijing Olympics, heads for a second stint in the U.S. after the Freedom named her in the first round of September’s international draft.

“There was a period where I thought I should stay with NTV to generate excitement in Japanese women’s soccer but I want to keep aiming high for the rest of my career,” Sawa said through Beleza.

Sawa played for the Atlanta Beat in 2000-2003 in the Women’s United Soccer Association, the former women’s pro soccer league in the United States that was forced to disband in 2003.