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The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

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The Waseda University Association Football Club, a renowned veteran university soccer team -
Aiming full throttle at the men’s and women’s intercollegiate championship!

Kozue Chiba / Kohei Nakata

Established 89 years ago, the Waseda University Association Football Club (hereafter referred to as the Club) has seen countless famous players among its ranks and contributed significantly to the world of Japanese soccer during its long history. Boasting 25 league wins in the first division of the Kanto University Football Association League Competition, last year the Club won the title at the Intercollegiate Championship (All Japan University Championship) for the first time in five years to achieve their twelfth victory at the event.

Expectations are high for consecutive championship wins; at the helm of this year’s team is Captain Kohei Nakata. Nakata is a phenom who had high expectations for his future since he first joined for his abilities to lead the Club. However, from the time he entered Waseda to his third year, he had appeared in official matches for a total of just five minutes.

“I would get injured and then impatient and then injured again, over and over. At the time I was insecure and even considered quitting soccer.”

Winning the 7th-8th place playoff match at the Amino Vital Cup Kanto University Tournament on June 8 (Saturday), the club seized the right to appear in the Prime Minister’s Cup Tournament.
©Noriko Tokita

Nevertheless, he made a comeback after intensive rehabilitation and established his position as one of the starting linemen prior to last year’s Intercollegiate Championship. This year, however, he was forced to the sickbed after contracting a norovirus infection. Chewing on the bitter knowledge that the Intercollegiate Championship would pass without a single chance to participate, Nakata watched over his team’s victory. What he learned from these difficult days is the importance of thinking for oneself and putting what one has conceived into action.

“Once I stopped doing things because I was told to and began acting independently, the injuries decreased. I also realized that even when running plays, the more independent a team is, the stronger it is.”

The team is driving towards its goal of achieving successive championships and dominating the league. Having overcome his past frustrations, this year’s Club has grown even more ravenous for the win under Nakata’s leadership.

At the same time, the Club’s women’s division is also a national level champion, and attained second place at last year’s Intercollegiate Championship. However, for Captain Kozue Chiba, this achievement is marred by bitterness. “Our goal was the championship and it was a match we could have won. We shouldn’t have lost.”

Chiba tasted that moment of regret on the pitch. Moreover, no one desired a victory at the Intercollegiate Championship greater than she. Under the words of Director Yoshikazu Nagaoka, “Carry a goal and a purpose,” her resolve has grown even more resolute.

“Why do I want to win the Intercollegiate Championship? When I came up with this goal, the first thing that came to mind was my parents. I wanted to achieve this goal for them, who have always supported me and cheered me on. Long ago my dream was to be one represent Japan in international soccer competitions, but now I think I will end my soccer career when I graduate. And that’s why I want to achieve as much as possible in the short time remaining.”

So a frank Chiba told us. Although it seems she holds dreams for after graduation, she only threw us a cute smile as she told us, “Those are a secret until then!”

The women’s division won the Tokyo Tournament in May, attaining their first title this season. They also achieved victory in the Waseda-Keio match on June 9, and are off to a good start. The men’s division Waseda-Keio game is on June 29. Nakata had the following to say about the decisive match.

“I once watched the Keio-Waseda game with my father when I was a child. The enthusiasm I witnessed then burned thrilling memories in my young mind and now I’m proud that I can stand in the same venue. We beat Keio in April and we’re going to give everybody a good show when we beat them again with Waseda-style soccer - by running with single-minded determination and with hard work.”

Use that passion to take on Keio, Nakata!

The atmosphere in the women’s division is always friendly. Chiba is second from the right.

Vice-captain Yuto Misao (fourth year, School of Sport Sciences) was offered a tentative position with Shonan Bellmare starting next year.
©Waseda Sports Press

The women’s division beat Sfida Setagaya Y in the finals at the Tokyo Tournament to attain their first title this season.
©Waseda Sports Press

(Offered By:WASEDA WEEKLY)

Kozue Chiba(left)
4th Year, School of Sports Sciences

Originally from Miyagi Prefecture, Kozue Chiba graduated from Tokiwagi Gakuen High School. Her position is defender and her strong passing skills are a point of pride. Aiming for victory in the Intercollegiate Championship, she announced her own candidacy for captainship. Her hobby is riding hybrid bicycles.

Kohei Nakata(right)
4th Year, School of Sports Sciences

Originally from Kanagawa Prefecture, Kohei Nakata graduated from Yokosuka High School. His position is midfielder. In junior and senior high school, he was a member of the youth team of Yokohama F-Marinos. His hobby is reading and one of his favorite books is Tsutaeru chikara.