Japan a hot pick for 2015 Asian Cup pre-competition camp

SOCCER-LOVER Taishin Purdy is excited at the thought of Japan coming to Ballarat for a 2015 Asian Football Confederation Asian Cup pre-competition camp.

The seven-year-old has followed in the footsteps of his Japanese mother Koko, who plays futsal at Ballarat East and formerly played soccer in Japan.

An online poll published on thecourier.com.au on Tuesday asked readers, “Which nation would you most want to base itself in Ballarat for an Asian Cup camp?”.

The poll saw Japan top the list by a long stretch with 36 per cent of votes. 

Australia trailed with 19 per cent, followed by China with 9 per cent of votes. 

Koko began playing soccer at age 11 in her small town of Komae, near Tokyo. 

She remembers facing off against Homare Sawa – the current Japanese national womens’ soccer team captain – during a match when she was 14.

“When I started playing, female soccer wasn’t big but now it is,” Koko said. “I definitely would want to see the game and support Japan in Ballarat.

“It would be great for multiculturalism.”

Koko said there were about 50 Japanese families living in Ballarat, however the bulk of Japanese supporters would travel from far and wide to see their team at the camp.

“Australia is one of the favourite spots for Japanese people – a lot of tourists visited for the Australian Open,” she said.

On Tuesday, Ballarat City Council chief executive Anthony Schinck told The Courier that meetings with the Back The Bid committee had discussed attracting teams of the calibre of Japan, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain for a pre-competition soccer camp.

The council signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Asian Cup Local Organising Committee in November, signalling it as a leading contender to host one of the 16 competing nations in the lead-up to the prestigious tournament.

Mr Schinck said costings and budgets of the lobbying process would be released in the next fortnight.