Sky Blue FC will play Japanese club INAC Kobe Leonessa in both Kagoshima and Okinawa (Photo courtesy of INAC Kobe Leonessa).
Team Will Join INAC Kobe Leonessa in Two-City Tour
In an effort to continue the growth of Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS), Sky Blue FC has formally committed to a 10-day training camp in Japan with Plenus Nadeshiko League club INAC Kobe Leonessa. As part of the planned schedule, the two teams will play a pair of exhibition matches in Kagoshima and Okinawa.
”We are really excited about this opportunity to go to Japan and play. INAC Kobe Leonessa is a very talented team with many national team players,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “This is a great chance for our group of players to go and experience a different culture while playing against a team from another country. It is an opportunity that does not come along too often.”
The team headed to Japan, composed mainly of WPS veteran players, will depart from New York on March 15th and fly into Tokyo. They will then travel into Kagoshima to prepare for the first friendly with INAC Kobe Leonessa at Kagoshima Prefectural Kamioke Athletics Stadium on March 20th. The next destination for the two sides will be Okinawa, where they will meet on March 24th at Comprehensive Athletic Park. As part of the trip, the two teams will also be honored at receptions in both game cities, in addition to making appearances within those communities.
While the 2012 WPS season has been suspended, Gabarra says traveling to Japan helps define the commitment of Sky Blue FC and the league to spreading its brand, all while continuing preparations to return to a full season in 2013.
“This shows that we are continuing to move forward,” he remarked. “Preparing for 2013 is certainly our mindset as players here in the United States will play in the USL W-League or WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League) this summer. This trip is something we have been putting together for quite some time, and we are pleased to be able to take advantage of the opportunity. At the same time, it helps us in efforts to continue ramping up for 2013.”
Sky Blue FC President Thomas Hofstetter also voiced his pleasure in seeing the team and league represented in this two-city Japanese tour.
“Sky Blue FC is looking forward to the trip to Japan,” he confirmed. “It demonstrates the role that WPS plays internationally in women’s professional soccer, and it serves in our continued effort to establish WPS as a well recognized brand.”
In the coming weeks, further details regarding this trip will be announced, including the announcement of the traveling roster.