WE ACTION DAY "Towards a Society Where Everyone Thrives”
JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies tackle issues in its hometown through football

On May 8, JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies held a series of activities under the club’s philosophy: to solve various issues in the community through the power of football while thinking about "a society where everyone thrives."

The first event was to support the "Universal Match presented by The Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd.," which was a friendly match between a team of people with intellectual disabilities and a local adult team. A total of eight players from JEF Chiba Ladies joined as assistant referees and ball persons.

The friendly match came into planning after the Club learned of the issues faced by the Chiba Football Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability. These included the difficulties of keeping the players motivated due to the small number of matches and the challenges of getting involved in the league for adults.

With the support of The Furukawa Electric Co., Ltd., which promotes diversity and inclusion, this friendly match became a reality. The Chiba Football Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability Representative Team played against the FURUKAWA GRANDES, Furukawa Electric’s club team and AC CHIBA, a local adult team.

The JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies players and staff held a study session on sports for persons with disabilities before the friendly match. They deepened their understanding of the seven categories of inclusive football, the rules of each category, and key points to remember. And based on this study session, they positioned this activity as "the beginning of activities, rather than just support.”

The match took place at the Fukuda Denshi Field, which is adjacent to the club team’s home stadium – Fukuda Denshi Arena. Midfielder Yurina Imai, took on the role as an assistant referee, looking intently at the players as she tried to discern the plays. Forward player Sara Imada, also supported the game as an assistant referee by running along the side of the field to follow the players' movements.

The Chiba Football Federation for Persons with Intellectual Disability Representative Team ended up not scoring in either of their two matches. And while some players looked disappointed, the JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies players applauded the team's strenuous fight. Defender Chisato Ichinose concluded the tournament with her speech by saying, "I was happy to be able to interact with everyone. I was moved and inspired by the aggressive offense as well as the defensive plays.”

Imai said that when she was studying to get her teacher's license, she had hands-on experience at a social welfare institution. Recalling that experience, she smiled and said, "I heard that there are not many places where persons with disabilities can play football. So we, as WE LEAGUERS, want to do what we can so that everyone can enjoy football.

Meanwhile, at Inage Seaside Park in Chiba City, 16 players – including Captain and Defender Kanae Hayashi and Forward player Ami Otaki, who returned to the game this February after giving birth to her first son last November, did a beach clean to protect the ocean.

Together with about 40 fans, they spent around an hour cleaning the beach – which was crowded with young people and families. The seemingly clean beach was covered with plastic bags and cigarette butts, and the total amount of trash picked up amounted to more than 50 bags of 4L trash bags.

On the same day, there was a J2 Chiba home game at the Fukuda Denshi Arena, which was attended by more than 5,500 supporters. So JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies took advantage of the club having both men's and women's team and had their boards displayed at the game.

The boards were displayed under the title "JEF United Ichihara Chiba Ladies as a Professional Football Team,” as it exhibited the team’s past activities. An institute that supports the employment of people with disabilities also had a stall selling food and beverages. A food drive also took place where many supporters brought their excess food and other extra items for donation.

As the final event of this season’s WE ACTION DAY, a total of five discussions between the players and business leaders in Chiba Prefecture are schedule to take place. The discussions will be about "women empowerment" and the contents will be published in the newspaper of the official sponsor, Chiba Nippo as well as the club's official website.