Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sendai story one of hope

Vegalta Sendai celebrate their 1-0 win over Avispa Fukuoka
It wasn’t too long ago that people were questioning how Vegalta Sendai would compete in the J. League after their city and surrounding area was decimated by the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

Their star off-season signing, Marquinhos from Kashima Antlers, quit the club citing emotional distress in the aftermath and their home ground, Yurtec Stadium, was badly damaged with fears they might not be able to play at home until the middle of the year.

It is, therefore, a stunning achievement that since the return of the J. League at the end of April, Sendai remains undefeated, coming within a whisker of making it four wins from four starts on the weekend when they conceded a late equaliser away to Cerezo Osaka.

Included in that is wins over Kawasaki Frontale and Urawa Reds, leaving them sitting in third place on the table.

Not only that, but they are back playing at Yurtec Stadium, which symbolically is just as important as any win on the park. Sendai is beginning to return to some form of normality.

The motivation for Vegalta Sendai is simple – to give hope to the people of Sendai.

“We want to give the region something to be proud of. We’ll do everything we can to keep winning and inspire the people of Sendai,” said Sendai coach Makoto Teguramori.

They are certainly doing that.

The looks of overwhelming joy of the faces of the Sendai fans when they came from behind to snatch a win at Kawasaki, the first game since the tsunami, was a picture to behold. Fans openly wept as they anxiously waited for the final whistle.

It meant more than just three points.

And that is the spirit that Sendai will be playing with all year. Regardless of what they go on to achieve this year they have delivered one of the good news stories for Football this year.

A team and city decimated by tragedy, triumphantly returning to the park and going on a magical winning streak. Hollywood couldn’t write a better script.

The question now - can there be a Hollywood ending?


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