Relocated JFA soccer school seen returning to Fukushima in FY 2021

The Japan Football Association (JFA) is considering moving back its soccer school for teens to Fukushima Prefecture as soon as fiscal 2021 from Shizuoka Prefecture where it has been relocated following the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. JFA Academy Fukushima, designed to nurture junior and senior high school students as soccer players, will use the J-Village facility for training. The facility, which straddles the towns of Naraha and Hirono, is scheduled to fully reopen in the spring of 2019 after being used as a forward base for dealing with the nuclear disaster. The above move was revealed by JFA President Kozo Tajima on April 22 during an interview with Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake vernacular newspaper. In resuming the JFA school, the national governing body for soccer plans to solicit students from within and outside Fukushima when they enter junior high schools. JFA Academy Fukushima students will receive junior to senior high school education in an integrated manner at Futaba Future Junior High School (scheduled to open in the 2019 school year) and the existing Futaba Future High School, both in Hirono, so that they will become high-level players. The JFA is negotiating for the planned move with parties concerned, including the Fukushima prefectural education board and Naraha and Hirono municipalities as well as the Shizuoka side that has accepted the academy since the disaster. The JFA is expected to determine when to move the academy back to Fukushima taking into account such factors as usage of J-Village after it reopens and the trend in evacuated residents returning to their hometowns to resume living there permanently. “We will tackle the matter with a determination to start from scratch,” Tajima said in the interview. “We hope to boost enthusiasm for soccer in Fukushima and that this will lead to the reconstruction of disaster-hit areas.” (Translated by Kyodo News)