A shame really, considering that it was on these trips away from the capital that Goannas of the past etched out their place in Footy in Japan Folklore. Goannas on tour have seen it all: a best on ground debut in Nagoya from eventual Kim Bebbington Medalist and premiership winning Captain Coach, Rob Scarlett, while another Kim Bebbington Medalist, Ev Kerr had the debut from hell on a trip to Osaka with 10 kicked on him and a concussion before he returned to the field and took the mark of the day... only to not remember it (I believe he remembers a certain Nagoya trip far more vividly, you’ll have to ask the touring party why).
There have been countless thrilling come-from-behind boat-race wins, a few trips to emergency rooms, sherrins kicked dangerously up and down the streets of Dotonbori in Osaka, impromptu dates with Hiroshima locals and plenty of sore heads and sleepy faces on the shink as the boys in Red and White would headed back to the city to get back into the 9-5 life, exhausted, yet energized by the chance to tour the Land of the Rising Sun with their mates.
The recent push to expand the game in Japan means that there are more teams in far away parts of the country than ever before. As such, tours are once again on the Goannas yearly agenda. There’s the Fukuoka Tigers in Kyushu, the newly-formed Chiba Guardians, and of course Japan’s most northern team, the Sendai Port Football Club. After their debut at the Japan Cup last year the Sendai Port Football Club have been focused on developing the game in the northern region of Japan. SPFC as they like to be called have been hitting the training track hard and are slowly but surely gaining in confidence and numbers. When asked earlier in season whether they were interested in heading north for a friendly match, training session and auskick clinic, the Goannas - now sitting atop the JAFL ladder at 4 wins from 4 outings - were quick to jump on board.
The Goannas are extremely excited to be heading up to support Footy in Tohoku! It is going to be a great chance to create more fodder for in-club banter and a few more Goannas tall-tales to be passed on to the next generation of players. More importantly though it is an opportunity to continue to grow the game in Japan. This is the first match to be held in the Tohoku region and more than 50 children are expected to attend the pre-match NAB Auskick Clinic that the Goannas will deliver. The Goannas are also planning on some volunteer work in along the coastline the that was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami five years ago.
A big thanks to the Sendai Port Football Club for extending the invitation to us, we cannot wait to get out there and have a great day!
See you on the Shink!