Get Newsletter

NorCal PDP to Host Two Friendlies Against JFA Sakai

Continuing a tradition that began all the way back in 2014, NorCal Premier Soccer’s Player Development Program is set to welcome teams from the Japanese Football Association’s Girls Sakai Academy for a pair of friendlies this month.

The U15 age group plays February 5 at 11:30 a.m. at Skyline College in San Bruno, while the U16 contest will take place on February 25 at 6:00 p.m. at Stanford Medicine Sports Complex in Pleasanton.

While these friendlies have usually been held each year, due to COVID-19, this will be the first match since February of 2020. The event typically features a full-length match open to the public followed by a get together between the two players in something of a cultural exchange.

“The way I look at it now is that NorCal Premier has almost been like a partner to the JFA,” said NorCal PDP Coach and trip coordinator Jovan Yamagishi. “We’re always looking forward to seeing each other and at the same time we have a lot of girls who end up on youth national teams that unite with some of our PDP girls who end up facing them in international matches.”

The idea for the partnership began more than 10 years ago when Yamagishi and another NorCal employee visited Japan and met with staff at the JFA Sakai facility, which is one of five national training centers in the country.

Since then, the JFA has sent a team almost every year and in 2014, NorCal’s PDP girls went on a trip to Japan to play against some of the top youth sides in the country.

For players, coaches, and parents alike, these events have provided a fun atmosphere and a chance to learn about fellow lovers of the beautiful game.

“We want to get as many people to come out to watch the game, but also to observe the purpose of it because soccer is such a global game,” Yamagishi said. “We as a country can do a better job of celebrating the global game rather than just making it our game.”

“There are moments where we need to think of our opponents as rivals but there are other moments where we need to think of them as peers, we need to think of one another” he added. “I would love to invite any coaches, directors, players, and parents from other clubs to come out and watch this celebration of soccer.”

To view the NorCal PDP rosters, click here.