In the latest installment of this site’s look at the supporters of Japanese football across the globe, Ben from Germany – more commonly known to us on the internet as fervent Avispa Fukuoka supporter @NavyBlueWasp – tells us what it is like being a supporter of a team/league that is on the other side of the world…….
1. How long have you been interested in Japanese football? How did you start?
The first time I got in touch with Japanese Football, after childhood-anime like “Kickers”, better known as “Ganbare Kickers” in Japan, which wasn’t really popular there but was in the West or Captain Tsubasa, was the World Cup 2002 in Korea/Japan, when the Japanese players were eye-catchers with their blonde-and red coloured hairstyles.
During the group stages, German TV showed little clips of the stadiums and the cities (Sapporo, Kashima and Shizuoka) where the Germans played their matches and I really liked the grounds.
For the J.League, I began to follow it back in 2004 when the 2nd stage started. At that time, I just checked the results after every week, but as the time went on and I found some more sites and news about the league, I got more and more passionate about the whole of football in Japan.
If Germany had played their group in Korea, maybe I would have never been into this entertaining league and the country itself! Thank God!
2. How did you come to decide on Avispa Fukuoka?
To be honest, Avispa wasn’t my first-choice club, because I didn’t really follow J2 back in 2004. First Gamba Osaka and then Urawa Reds were my favourite clubs in my first two years. When Avispa got promoted for J.League’s 2006 season, I followed them through the year for the most simple reason there is: I liked the club colours and the crest. But I would have called me a “sympathizer” more than a fan at that time. In 2007, I stopped following them. I don’t know why, but I think I was still focused too much on J1 football.
At the start of the following season, Avispa signed German coach and former JEF United star Pierre Littbarski, so I started to following them again and with interviews about plans and tactics which i could understand now, i got hooked again and have stayed loyal to the club since then.
3. How do you watch the J.League in your country? How do you keep up to date with the latest J.League news?
What should I say? Stream? Of course, it’s a bit easier to follow your team when it competes in J1 & J2 through streams, but when I can’t find one, I really like to follow the games based on the reactions from the fans on Twitter. I know it’s weird but it is pretty entertaining. Most of the highlights, or better to say all of the highlights, I get from YouTube.
The World Wide Web makes it pretty easy to keep up to date with the latest news in the J.League. Nowadays, I get most of the news from Twitter. I’m pretty happy that we have got so many English-speaking/writing fans of the J.League to share the same passion and almost every team has got one supporter of it.
4. Who is your favourite Japanese player?
I’m an Avispa fan, but my favourite Japanese player is Yasuhito Endo.
For me, he was an unknown player when I first saw him at the 2004’s Asian Cup, because I just knew the players of the last World Cup. But “Yatto” became the player I followed the most pretty quickly because he worked a lot in midfield (he wasn’t the superb technical player we know today at that time, in my opinion) and I liked that bulldog-like expression of his face.
For me, he is the best player Japan ever produced (closely followed by Shunsuke Nakamura) and one of the best players in Asia’s football history. His technique, his free-kicks, his passes… but do I really need to tell you?
Love him or hate him, I just love this guy and his attitude on the pitch!
5. Do you plan coming to Japan to see Avispa?
I do! It’s on the top on my things-to-do-list. I hope to come to Japan this year, but the plan is still in its early stage. I will try my best to realize it and to support Avispa from the stands of Level 5-Stadium with all my heart and my voice together with a bunch of blue-silver dressed people around me! But I also want to discover the land, learn more about the culture and fulfill another big dream beside a visit to Avispa: To see Mount Fuji! I can’t wait for that day to come!