American-style football has grown in popularity in Japan since the 1980s. Did you know, however, that there are also women's tackle football teams in Japan?
[Wild Cats] [Lady Kong] [Blue Sky Angels]
- Sponsor: Osaka Kogin Credit Union
- Year founded: 1986
- This team originally drew its players from a group of women, called the Wild Cats, who dressed in khaki and rode pink motor scooters on their money collecting rounds for Osaka Kogin. This collection-making unit was first formed in 1982.
- When Osaka Kogin celebrated its 30th anniversary in 1985, elite members of the Wild Cats, known as the Gal Force, helped plan anniversary activities. These women were invited to watch a football game between the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University. The women enjoyed watching the game so much that they decided to get the okay to form their own American-style tackle football team.
- Women recruited for the Wild Cats football team had to attend an intensive football training camp at a company-owned resort.
- The Wild Cats split into two groups, the Revengers and the Ability Giraffes, for practice games in which every play had to be carefully scripted.
- Some 1989 members of the Wild Cats included the following: defensive end Harumi Matsumoto, fullback Sumiko Mayama, and tackle Mitsuko Shiromura.
- The coaching staff consisted of four men and three women. Two of the coaches were Shinji Yamamoto and Akira Matsumoto.
- On Sunday, December 8, 1991, the Osaka Wild Cats played the Dai-Ichi Lady Kong in Shijonawata, Osaka. The Wild Cats won 22-8.
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- Sponsor: Dai-Ichi Mutual Life Insurance Company
- This team was founded in November 1990 as Japan's third women's tackle football team.
- The head coach in 1991 was Hisashi Shibata, who as a player was named the most valuable player of the Koshien Bowl, Japan's college football national championship game.
- The roster in 1991 consisted of 22 players ("many of whom are gym instructors"), and the average player was 5 feet 4 inches tall and 123 pounds. Included among the women on the team were Naoko Hasegawa (5 feet 3 inches, 137 pounds), a running back, defensive and backup quarterback, and Rika Shishido, a quarterback.
- Lady Kong players began their workouts with light exercises, then worked themselves up to a scrimmage. There were two evening workouts a week at an indoor gym.
- By 1994, the Lady Kong team was playing two games a year versus the Osaka Wild Cats.
- Hiroko Suzuki, who joined the Lady Kong in 1995, was a defensive tackle and team captain.
- By 1999, a Japanese economic slump resulted in a decline in sponsorship money for women's tackle football.
- There is now an official website for the Lady Kong women's football team. The address is as follows: http://www.ne.jp/asahi/football/ladykong. Please note, however, that this website is in Japanese.
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- Founded in April 1990
- Sponsor: Sumitomo Life Insurance
- I know very little else about this team. Therefore, if anyone has any further information, please let me know by e-mail. Thank you.
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- Nakanishi, Takeshi. Untitled /Article. Associated Press. Sept. 25, 1991.
- Robin-Tani, Marianne and Tani, Noriyasu. "Wild Cats." PHP Intersect. (volume 5) August 1, 1989: 18-21.
- "Football: Japanese Women Play the American Way," a.k.a. "Eyewitness: Battle Dress; Women Football Players hit the Turf." Asiaweek. (Vol. 20) November 9, 1994: 44-45.
- "Female Football Player to Hit the Gridiron in the US." Nikkei Weekly. March 20, 2000; Topics and People section: 17.
- Visit the Queen Bowl website, located at http://www1.neweb.ne.jp/wb/eztz/queenbowl, for scores and photos of the 1999 Japanese women's football championship game.
NOTICE: If anyone has copies of the above mentioned articles or magazine issues, please let me know what the uniform colors are. Better yet, scan the pictures accompanying the articles and send as. JPEG (.JPG) files. Thank you very much.