3rd IFAF WC REVIEW
|Under a lot of raindrops, we saw a lot of smiles at the stadiums.
At the just-concluded 3rd IFAF World Championships in Kawasaki, the typical seasonal rain hit most of the games--including the hard-fought, historical game between Japan and the United States in the Final--and it made the contests more difficult to play for the players and coaches and also difficult to predict for the fans.
But the unstable weather never ruined the succession of the tournament. The voice that were
heard out of the players, coaches, fans, and volunteers were not complaining ones but positive,
``I couldn't wait to see this,'' said Kimihiko Yoshida, a company employee from Tokyo, who attended in the stands at the Final at Todoroki Stadium on Sunday. ``It's an atmosphere here.''
Next to Yoshida, there was another Yoshida, which was his younger brother, Fumihiko, who arrived in Kawasaki on the previous day from Nagasaki of Kyushu, a southwestern area of
Japan to witness the big game, despite a big typhoon, Typhoon Man-yi.
``We've been watching football for nearly 20 years,'' said Fumihiko, wearing a towel of the Japanese team like a bandanna, while his brother wore a red Japan cap.
The Yoshidas, huge NFL fans also, said that they believed Japan was going to win the tournament for its third straight tourneys. Team Japan was unfortunately not able to achieve the feat, by falling short 23-20 to the Americans. But they perhaps left the arena with more of satisfaction, rather than disappointment, because the Final was such a gutsy, hard-fought game, and plus, they were able to be there at the stadium live to see the moment that the world's best was determined.
A tournament volunteer, Yuki Kumagai, jumped at the opportunity, when she heard about thevolunteer work during the World Championships from the flag football team she plays for, about a month prior to the tournament.
Kumagai, a resident of Kawasaki who was working as an usher at the Final, looked lively to be part of the tournament that is held once in every four years.
``I'm enjoying every moment,'' Kumagai said. ``Especially the atmosphere at Todoroki, it is fitting as a World Championship site.''
In the stands, a guy named Adam was holding a Stars and Stripes flag. An obvious fan for the United States, Adam, a native of Columbus, Ohio, has gone to football games in the motherland of the sport. But even for a guy like him who has discriminating eyes on it, the atmosphere of the World Championships was pretty satisfactory.
``It's awesome,'' said Adam, now living in Japan as an English teacher.
``I'm surprised there are a lot of fans here. This is much more than I expected.''
A manager of one of the goods shops on the final day was in panic before the Final game of
Japan and the U.S.--panic in a positive respect for him, because fans were eagerly rushing up to buy the World Championship- and Team Japan-related merchandises.
``We're very, very busy,'' said he, who denied to give his name in the business. ``The caps, tumblers, T-shirts and programs...everything is going to be sold out within today. We've been getting orders through the website, too. We've actually sold out everything once. What makes us pleased is that they have come here under the heavy rain and bought our stuff. We'd never expected this before the tournament.''
Through the nine games in the World Championships, a total number of over 22,000 fans visited
the stadiums to see them and over 800,000 viewers glanced the official website. Considering most of the games were held under the rainy conditions, the attendant number is thought to be impressive.
``Every day, many fans came to the stadiums and we're deeply appreciate it,'' said Toyohisa Asada, the Chairman of Executive Committee for the tournament, concluding the tournament after the Final. ``It was an epoch-making tournament that was held overcoming the differences in the cultures and languages as we welcomed the five other nations.''
Robert Huber, General Secretary of International Federation of American Football, said confidently after the Final that the third version of the World Championships ended in the successful fashion.
``It was extremely important for IFAF, for the global football community, that the United States
participated so that we could prove that we are a really international federation, where even the motherland of our sport participated,'' Huber said. ``And also it was very important we could show with the games of Japan and Germany against the United States that even other countries outside the United States had a chance to have a great performance and close game. The gaps were not as much big as somebody had expected before.''
Tommy Wiking, President of IFAF, has participated in all the past World Championships as different roles. The Swede did not lose his smile at the post-tournament news conference with the satisfaction he received from the tournament.
``As predicted, we had great games,'' Wiking said. ``The tournament itself has been tremendous. It was very impressive how the KOC (Kawasaki Organizing Committee) and Japanese organizing committee achieved.
``This is my third Championships, and this is by far the best tournament, on all angles with the teams participating, with the organization, and with the games played.''