Soccer

New Suzuka Unlimited manager Milagros Martinez Dominguez becomes first female boss in Japan men's soccer

by Dan Orlowitz

Staff Writer

Mie Prefecture-based Suzuka Unlimited unveiled Milagros Martinez Dominguez as the club’s new manager on Wednesday, becoming the first men’s team in a Japanese national league to hire a woman for the position.

The 33-year-old Spaniard holds a UEFA Pro License, the top certification required to manage clubs participating in Europe’s continental competitions. She previously managed Fundacion Albacete in the Spanish women’s first division and has most recently been in charge of the women’s team at Atletico Tomelloso.

“I would like to thank Suzuka Unlimited for providing me the opportunity to manage the club next season, as well as the chance to manage a men’s team,” Dominguez said through a club release.

“I’m happy and excited to be able to coach in Japan. It’s a dream come true to experience Japanese soccer and culture. I look forward to achieving the goals set by the club and also to bringing the Spanish way of soccer to Suzuka.”

The announcement comes as Unlimited prepares to participate in the Japan Football League, the country’s top amateur competition, for the first time after finishing runner-up in November’s regional champions league tournament.

According to the club’s announcement, the hunt for a female manager began with a Google search for “soccer female manager.”

“As we aim to upset the hierarchy in Japan’s fourth division, we believe we need to take on challenges that other clubs have not,” read a news release by Suzuka. “After learning of previous manager Keiju Karashima’s intent to step down, we decided to seek a female manager to replace him.”

After being introduced to Dominguez by Spain-based coach Yuriko Saeki, the club sought — and received — JFL approval for the signing.

Suzuka, which formed from a 2008 merger between Mie FC Rampole and Suzuka Club, finished first in the last two seasons of the Tokai Adult Soccer League. The club aspires to become Mie Prefecture’s first J. League member.

The 16-team JFL, a mix of corporate teams and clubs seeking entry into the J. League, is scheduled to begin its 21st season on March 17.