Nadeshiko, the Japanese Women’s Football Team that is massively popular in its home country, will be playing for gold today. Here’s some essential background to keep you ahead of the game.
1. They’re named after a flower, Dianthus Superbus, or Large Pink, part of the carnation family. It’s full name, Yamato Nadeshiko means ‘the idealized Japanese Woman’. The name expresses how the team plays — with grace and technique against physically stronger countries.
2. They won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, beating the United States (their opponents in the Olympics final) 3–1 in a penalty shootout.
3. They are at the centre of a row in Japan because the Japanese Football Association flew them over in Economy while the less successful men’s team were in Business Class. The JFA has offered to fly them back Business Class if they get a medal (and if there are seats available).
4. Key player Homare Sawa holds the women’s record for most goals in international matches (80) and most games played (176). She is the current FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year.
5. Midfielder Aya Sameshima is from Tohoku and used to work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The match is at 7:45 this evening. Go Nadeshiko! Ganbare Nippon!