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Feb 2005
Issue 057

Out now!

Scouring the soccer circuit

KS pulls up its socks and gets in position for DIY soccer in Kansai.

Back home or virtually anywhere but here, it doesn’t take much man-work to find a sports ground to play soccer (football, surely — Ed.) or just kick the ball around for a few hours. Here things are slightly different. Sure, there’s that same amount of enthusiasm amongst those who participate, the same drive to compete, that shared desire to be outdoors. Arranging a venue, however, is a task which requires some work. Kansai resident, Rod Linn let Kansai Scene know about the intricate lottery system used to vie for sports grounds as well as who to talk to you if you’re interested in playing soccer.

Linn is the Organiser/Captain/Coach/ Treasurer (resident busy guy?) of Murphy’s soccer team, Osaka. There are a few connections between the team and Murphy’s Irish pub, Shinsaibashi. Back in 1999 the then owner supplied the team with their first kit (uniform). The other connection is that Murphy’s soccer team past and present have been known to enjoy a pint on the premises.

The birth of Murphy’s soccer team came about in the late 1990s, on the banks of Yodogawa River, where Linn and a few friends kicked the ball around on Sunday afternoons. Linn was “desperate to keep fit” and “missed playing soccer”. As it happens word spread and soon more and more people were turning up to join in.

Nowadays Murphy’s participate in serious competition. In 2004, Linn, ever the guy with his finger on the pulse, signed Murphy’s up with the Shin Nippon sports league — an organisation that administrates various sporting events. This came about because Linn frequently checks the notice board at Soccer Kamo (football specialist store, Shinsaibashi) and also as a result of the many phone calls he made.

The soccer league runs for 12 months from April. The team is allotted a total of eight games. Says Linn “playing in a league gives us more structure and purpose as well as motivation to win”. It costs the team ¥95,000 per year so players participating in all eight games pay ¥5,000 which covers them for the entire season. There are also “Friendly” matches which take up the bulk of the season. Participants pay ¥500 to play in friendly matches. It’s in the friendly matches that you’ll run into other foreigners because there are a handful of foreign teams in Kansai.

Linn’s happy with the turn-out of players, he’s hardly ever short of players (and if he is, he’ll let you know in the classified section of this magazine). He says the costs to play soccer are reasonable and most agree. His challenge lies in finding venues. Linn goes along to various organisations which allocate sports grounds and makes an application to use these grounds.

If all goes well (meaning the less who apply, the better) Linn gets to use the field on the day desired. If there are other applicants vying for the field on the same day and time, the victor is determined over good old fashioned janken. Linn and other sports enthusiasts would agree that although we may not be directly exposed to a lot of green space, there are ways of accessing and using it with a bit of ingenuity, networking and, err … honed janken skills.

For any queries about the Murphy’s soccer team, email to Rod Linn at [email protected] or speak to Michael O’Carroll at Murphy’s Irish pub. Tom O’Neill of the Blarney Stone, Umeda can also
put you in contact with the JET Osaka team.

Text: Renee Karena • Photos: John Russell


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