All of us have seen the terrible pictures of the earthquake and tsunami which hit Japan on March 11. This has also affected Japan's football as the J-league was stopped while international friendlies got cancelled. The idea came about to organise a charity match between the Japanese national team and a J-League Allstars XI which was played yesterday.
Through the match and other activities around the game the Japanese Football Association has been able to raise close to 15 Million Yen (around US$ 185,000). A sell-out crowd of 47,000 came to the Nagai Stadium in Osaka in support of the victims of the terrible natural disaster.
Japan had only a couple of month's back won a record fourth Asian Cup and their captain Makoto Hasebe said, "It was your support that gave us strength on the pitch. Now it is our turn to support you together with the rest of the world. Believing in the power of football, we will play our heart out."
Not only the Wolfsburg midfielder but numerous Japanese stars who now ply their trade in Europe like CSKA Moscow star Keisuke Honda came to Osaka in support of their countrymen amongst them also defender Yasuyuki Konno, a native of Miyagi prefecture, one of the badly hit areas on the Northeast coast.
Japan beat the J-League 'Team As One' 2-1, but that wasn't the prime reason for the game to take place. Before the game there a minute of silence and prayers in honour of those killed and injured.
In the game Yasuhito Endo gave Japan a 15th minute lead through a free kick and their lead was doubled by Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki only five minutes later for the Blue Samurai. They continued to control affairs in the second session, but former 44 year old superstar Kazuyoshi Miura, who still plays in the J-League, reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute.
But on this day it wasn't about the football, but about the support the beautiful game can give the people of Japan.