All though the 2012 WPS season had been suspended, Sky Blue FC has formally committed to a 10-day training camp in Japan with Plenus Nadeshiko League club INAC Kobe Leonessa. As part of the planned schedule, the two teams will play a pair of exhibition matches in Kagoshima and Okinawa. This trip is to show that Sky Blue and the WPS is, as it has stated before, committed to rebuilding and returning for 2013.
“We are really excited about this opportunity to go to Japan and play. INAC Kobe Leonessa is a very talented team with many national team players,” Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra stated. “This is a great chance for our group of players to go and experience a different culture while playing against a team from another country. It is an opportunity that does not come along too often.”
The team headed to Japan, composed mainly of WPS veteran players, will depart from New York on March 15th and fly into Tokyo. There first friendly will be on March 20th against INAC Kobe in Kagoshima and then on March 24th they will meet a second time in Okinawa.
“This shows that we are continuing to move forward,” Gabarra remarked. “Preparing for 2013 is certainly our mindset as players here in the United States will play in the USL W-League or WPSL (Women’s Premier Soccer League) this summer. This trip is something we have been putting together for quite some time, and we are pleased to be able to take advantage of the opportunity. At the same time, it helps us in efforts to continue ramping up for 2013.”
Sky Blue FC President Thomas Hofstetter also voiced his pleasure in seeing the team and league represented in this two-city Japanese tour.
“Sky Blue FC is looking forward to the trip to Japan,” he confirmed. “It demonstrates the role that WPS plays internationally in women’s professional soccer, and it serves in our continued effort to establish WPS as a well recognized brand.”