J-League Soccer – Tokushima Vortis in-action!
The Tokushima Vortis is the local Japanese professional soccer team representing the prefecture of Tokushima, Japan. The team is owned by the Otsuka Pharmaceutical company and primarily sponsored by Ostuka’s popular sports drink brand, Pocari Sweat. The team name Vortis is comprised from the Italian word, ‘vortices,’ which means ‘whirlpools’ – a symbol of tourist attraction visible in the Naruto Straits within the prefecture. Although the history of the team can be dated back to 1955 as the Ostuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. Soccer Club, it wasn’t until 2005 Tokushima Vortis was officially adopted as its team name entering into its first year in Japan’s second-tier professional league (J-2). The Japanese professional soccer league, known as the J-League is comprised of two divisions, J-1 and J-2, with 18 and 22 teams included respectively. Each year in the league, the top three teams in J-2 replace the 3 worst teams in J-1 as a promotion for a successful season, a crowning achievement Tokushima Vortis celebrated for the first time last year in 2013. However, this promotion to the big boys’ league has come with big boy lumps as Tokushima finds itself without a win and in last place in J-1 League standings to date. Today I went to see last place Tokushima Vortis in action vs. 4th place Kawasaki Frontale, a team based south of Tokyo in Kanagawa prefecture. With over 8000 people in attendance, Tokushima Vortis was dominated 4-0. Despite the loss and the winless season to date, Tokushima supporters showed a lot of pride and dedication by cheering until the very end. A look around the stadium, I couldn’t see even one person making a break to beat the traffic, all of whom stayed until the customary team visit to acknowledge the fan support. The final cheers seemed rather supportive and encouraging for players having to dreadfully confront their fans after a butt-kicking loss, except for one bit of raw emotion I witnessed as an angry kid, screamed “booooooooo!” with thumbs down! Despite this 0-6 start, the J-League season has just started and will last well into December, so only time will tell if Tokushima Vortis belongs with the big boys..