As women’s soccer continues to grow globally — exemplified most recently by record crowds at the recent European Championships won by host England — it’s hard for Japanese fans to not feel some level of frustration at the sport’s slow pace of growth locally.

The inaugural season of the WE League, the country’s first professional women’s soccer competition, drew an average of 1,560 fans per game — a number boosted 7% by a single late-season fixture at Tokyo’s National Stadium between already-crowned champions INAC Kobe Leonessa and Urawa Reds. Nine of 11 clubs managed to average above 1,000, with Albirex Niigata and Nojima Stella Sagamihara the outliers at 957 and 956, respectively.

Those numbers aren’t terrible in the context of the never-ending coronavirus pandemic, which restricted attendances and suppressed atmospheres at a time when clubs sorely needed images of packed stands with cheering fans to fuel their marketing strategies.