Sunday, June 8, 2014

Mitakihara to schedule Kwansei Gakuin for Homecoming 2072

Mitakihara to schedule Kwansei Gakuin for Homecoming 2072

By Enju Aihara
The Daily Magi
October 8, 2071

Mitakihara University is set to make history as the first school in Canada and the first school in NCAA history to schedule a team from Japan in a game that will count toward both teams' respective standings. Thanks to an agreement with the NCAA and the Japan American Football Association (JAFA), the Magi will take on the Kwansei Gakuin Fighters on Homecoming 2072 at the newly-renovated Sakura Bowl Stadium in October 2072. Upon announcement of the game, the event was announced a sellout after one hour.

Kwansei Gakuin University (関西学院大学 Kansei Gakuin Daigaku), colloquially abbreviated to Kangaku (関学), is a non-denominational Christian private and coeducational university located in Nishinomiya, Sanda, Osaka City, and Tokyo, Japan. Chartered in 1932, it is the 13th institution with university status in Kansai region, the 23rd-oldest outside of Greater Tokyo, and the 46th-oldest in the country. Kwansei Gakuin University is one of oldest and leading private universities in Japan. It has relatively strong network of alumni in the Kansai region and has produced a number of CEOs in Japanese companies and politicians.

Kwansei Gakuin has one of the most diverse varsity athletic programs in Japan, and its 34 varsity teams that compete in regional collegiate leagues. Although the school, unlike other private universities in the country, does not offer specific scholarships for student-athletes, it is still competitive with the top echelon of Japanese collegiate teams in the sports of American football, basketball, lacrosse and soccer. KG is currently best known for its American football team, known as the Fighters, dominating the Division I League of Kansai Collegiate American Football Association with a total of 80 league titles, 60 national collegiate titles, and the last 30 national championships. Kwansei Gakuin, Kyoto and Ritsumeikan have battled for American football dominance in the league for the last 90 years.

"This is not an exhibition; it's a regular season game, and we're gonna treat it as such," said Coach Kaname at a press conference at Hakurei Centre. "We have the best college football team in all of Japan, or rather, the best football team in Japan coming to our shores on what probably will be my final Homecoming. We could have scheduled Colorado for next year, but they refused to accept our offer. It would have been nice to schedule the Buffaloes as my final Homecoming opponent, as they were my first Homecoming opponent.

"However, I got a call last week from Tsuji Ikari, who is the current head coach of the Fighters. He played for us back in the late 30s as a halfback and he's been the coach of the Fighters for the last two decades. Tsuji asked me if I could schedule his team for Homecoming. During Homecoming Week, I had discussions with Tsuji and Shota Nandaba, who I  hadn't spoke to in three decades. The last time I talked to him was when he was in the hospital after my team knocked him out for the season as a player. Shota is now the athletic director at Kangaku. He's been at the post for 10 years. So I talked with the two of them and [Mitakihara athletic director] Ritsu [Kawai] about arranging a game for next year.

"Shota's already told me that he's working with the JAFA and Kansai Collegiate American Football Association (KCAFA) to finalize the details, and after the Homecoming Game, everything was finalized. The game will take place on Week 6 of next year at the Sakura Bowl, and it will be an exciting game to watch. This matchup between Japan and North America's best college football teams will blow all East vs. West showdowns out of the water. I know this is already a sellout and the players who will be coming back next year are excited to play a Japanese team for the first time in their lives. It's going to be a lot of fun."

This game will be sponsored by the NCAA, the JAFA, the KCAFA and by Aniplex, an ongoing sponsor of Mitakihara University Athletics. In addition, the theme name has already been named: "Honoring A Legend," to pay tribute to Tatsuya Kaname and his contributions to the sport of American football for the last six decades. October 1, 2072 is the provisional set date for the game, although this is subject to change. This game will be broadcast by Radio Madoka, One World Sports and NHK.

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