What Better Way To Spend Christmas Day Than Going To See A Football Match!

Think of Christmas Day and the likes of roast turkey, crackers, mince pies, presents and family time may come to mind. Of course it all depends on where you’re from and what religion you are but for the first 24 years of my life growing up in the UK that was pretty much it for me.

Festive football meant a few presents relating to the sport (shirts, scarves, annuals, chocolate footballs etc) and going to a game on Boxing Day (December 26th). Up until 1965 football in England was actually played on the 25th but as that was way before my time I have never experienced watching a live game.

2022 was the first opportunity I can ever remember having to see a live match as December 25th in Japan really is just a normal day. Sure, there is all the build up (songs, decorations etc) but there is pretty much nothing at the end, and indeed many festive decorations come down on that day as they are replaced for what are considered the more important New Years ones.

For me, December 25th often goes downhill after lunchtime and it’s a case of just sitting around waiting for the day to end! I didn’t want that to happen this time so once I saw there was a women’s match on I thought it would be a good future talking point to say I’d seen a game on Christmas Day.

Somehow I persuaded my wife to come with me as it will be another five years before it’s possible again when the 25th falls on a weekend day. The destination was Urawa in Saitama Prefecture and at the stadium there were Christmas trees outside the stadium which fans tied wishes to.

A few fans were wearing Santa hats as we made our way to our seats. Christmas songs were also blasting out of the sound systems in the concourse and in the seating meaning that as you went between the two you could hear two different tunes at the same time! There was also a special clam chowder Christmas dish on sale. Whether it’s just there every match under a more regular name I don’t know!!

Having just checked the details of my previous visit to Urawa Komaba Stadium in September 2019, I have only just realised this was a repeat of the match I saw back  then. However, there have been a few changes in the three years thereafter with both the away team and the league itself being renamed.

The WE League is the first fully-professional women’s football league in Japan with 11 clubs competing including Urawa Red Diamonds and MyNavi Sendai. The inaugural season began on 22nd October 2022 and conforms with most European leagues by playing a winter season unlike the J-League.

Before they moved into Saitama Stadium 2002, Urawa Reds men’s team played at this 21,500 seat stadium but as they grew in popularity something much bigger was needed. They moved from Komaba Stadium (still considered by many to be their spiritual home) to their present home in October 2001. Although the men do still play the occasional low-key match at Komaba, it is principally used by their ladies team.

On a nice sunny afternoon, it didn’t take long to see the opening goal and it came for Reds just four minutes into the game as striker Kozue Ando turned the ball home from close range. They got their second goal closer to half time as defender Yu Endo finished off a nice passing move.

 

Just to add to the festive occasion I took along my box of mince pies for the half time break, and I also ate my first chocolate having refrained from such treats for three months prior to then. It’s been a long time since I had such an enjoyable interval at an event!

As the temperature plummeted in the second half so did the action and there wasn’t too much of note other than Ando hitting the bar. With it getting colder and needing to get back home for a family Zoom “meeting” we left a little before the end.

Final Score: Urawa Red Diamonds 2-0 MyNavi Sendai

Past Christmas Days have been spent on the beach at Cottesloe in Perth (Australia), doing very little in Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), exploring the ancient ruins of Tikal which were used in the original Star Wars film (Guatemala) and wandering around the golden temples of Yangon (Myanmar). I can now add going to a football match to that list of unconventional things I have now done on the big day.

Click here to read ‘TF Top 10……Football Match Day Experiences In 2022’

Click here to read ‘Time To Jump On The Women’s Football Bandwagon For A New Experience!’

Click here to read ‘Japan’s Sakura 15 Rugby Team Host Ireland In Tokyo: My First Ever Women’s Match!’

Click here to read ‘Fun & Excitement Are Never Too Far Away When Watching This Non-League Japanese Team!’

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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