Soccer

Ichiritsu Funabashi becomes Japan’s first public school to sign uniform deal for soccer team

by Dan Orlowitz

Staff Writer

Ichiritsu Funabashi High School announced a partnership with job listing site MyNavi on Tuesday, becoming the first public school in the country to sign a uniform sponsor for its soccer club.

The Chiba Prefecture-based school, a nine-time Inter High School Sports Festival winner and five-time All Japan High School Soccer Tournament champion, is currently competing in the Prince Takamado Trophy U-18 Football League Premier League East. The division features six academy sides representing J. League clubs as well as three private high school teams.

“We have a lot of away trips and regularly require lodging the night before the match in order to maintain the condition of our players,” head coach Ryuzo Asaoka and supporters’ club chairman Meitetsu Soga said in a joint statement.

“While we receive money from the Japan Football Association and the city of Funabashi, the families of our players are still required to pay large sums and there is a considerable gap between a public school such as ours and private schools or J. League academies.

“Through this uniform sponsorship we can not only reduce the burden on the families of our players, but also offer talented players from difficult financial backgrounds more opportunities to participate.

“We hope to become a model case (for other public high schools).”

Ichiritsu Funabashi is currently in seventh place with a 2-3-4 record after nine rounds. The team will debut its MyNavi-sponsored uniforms on Aug. 26 when they travel to play Toyama Daiichi High School.