October 31, 2007
J.League, Niigata Albirex and Me
The J.League is recognized as the professional soccer league in Japan. It has two divisions, J1 and J2. J1 is the top league where the big money is made, whereas J2 is more of a feeding league for J1, but there are still good players in J2 (J2 clubs tend to be in smaller city centers, with each team’s goal to build up their infrastructure and J2 game successes so they may be promoted to J1). The J1 division has been going for 15 years where as the J2 division was only recently created in 1999.
With the creation of the J.League, an improvement in overall soccer standards and support for soccer throughout Japan nationwide has been on the rise. There are 18 teams in J1 division and 13 teams in J2 division. I will be going to the J1 team Albirex Niigata next year.
Albirex Niigata was originally part of the J2 division when it was first formed in 1999. After 2 years of coming close to being promoted into the J1 division (2001, 2002) in the year in 2003 they won the J2 Division and they were promoted. They are currently 7th in J1 and are they 1 point off 6th place. They have an amazing fan support base with an average of 40,000 fans at every home game and they also have set records for attendance (single game 100,000+ & 600,000+ for a season).
Next year when I join, I am really looking forward to the challenge of pro soccer. The facilities are amazing; top grass and artificial pitches, weight rooms, stretch rooms, you name it they've got it. I will be living in the dormitory which is right on the training ground. Being given such an opportunity to go pro straight after graduating has been a dream come true, so I am going to work my hardest in the next year and hopefully be able to break into the starting team. Who knows, you might see me on TV in the near future.