AFL Japan are delighted that the Japanese Government has eased its COVID-19 State of Emergency restrictions, which will allow its clubs the opportunity to return to training and hopefully get it’s A League & GO League AFL Japan seasons underway.
The Olympic Games-hosting nation has been in a State of Emergency for the majority of the year, but with restrictions easing its a positive sign for AFL Japan and its clubs, who have been starved of football opportunities in 2021 after a shortened AFL Japan A League season was able to be played in 2020!
Chief Director of AFL Japan, Hideki Miyasaka, is very excited about the return to play. “Since the State of Emergency has been lifted in June, we are gradually starting our activities in order to start the A League season, which we are aiming to commence in September”.
“We are expecting five teams this season, including a team from the Gaelic competition. I believe this is the first time we’ve had a Gaelic team join our competition since the current A League and previous Top League System was introduced.”
“As we did in 2020, the number of games played will be reduced to fit the fixtures in, but we are very excited to have footy back in Japan”.
During the 2020 A League season the Tokyo Goannas claimed back to back premierships after defeating the Eastern Hawks by 67 points, whilst University-based clubs the Senshu Powers and Komazawa Magpies finished third and fifth respectively.
The Echidna Blues made their debut in the A League and comprised of players from the Tokyo Bay Suns (who were unable to field a standalone team due to COVID-19-related work commitments) and the R246 Lions and admirably finished fourth in their inaugural campaign.
An interesting side note, is the fact that over 80% of the footballers playing in Japan are Japanese, with 4/5 A League teams being all-Japanese teams, whilst the GO League-based Osaka Dingoes are a 50/50 split of locals and expats.