Story and photos by Greg Mitchell,FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
Donning new uniform designs and helmet paint schemes, the Yokosuka Seahawks officially began their 2014 football season against the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) National Defense Academy on board Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka’s Berkey Field, March 23.
The Seahawks, a semi-professional football team of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League’s North Division, consists predominately of Sailors, Marines and Department of Defense (DOD) civilian employees, contractors and Japanese nationals – who simply come together for the love of the sport.
“This is an annual scrimmage game that we do with them,” said head coach James Price. “We normally play this game during the Spring Festival open base event – but this years’ festival is a week later than normal so we still played the game today.
The game was a part of the goodwill and friendship shared between the host nation and its American counterparts.
I think it’s very important,” said Price. “You start to build friendships with people and these friendships last a lifetime if you are one of the people who stay in Japan for quite a while. Some of the Japanese players that I played with, some of the coaches from the other teams – we are pretty good friends; we have a social life and everything together. I think it is important that we actually mix with the Japanese community vice staying on base and not getting involved. I think it is really important for the relations with our host nation; they actually know who we are and that we actually do good things, and we are friendly people with good sportsmanship.”
The game ended as a 42-0 victory in favor of the Seahawks. After the game, players from both sides shook hands and took a group photo together.
“I think we look pretty good,” said Price. “We got a chance to work out our offense and our defense but, this game was more so for both the coaches and the players; we have to get our play calling and our coordination down. This is one of the better teams that we have coached. We still have a long way to go.That was our first game and we have a lot to do to make sure we are ready. Our players talent-wise can compete with some of the best players in football in the states. We are talking about some guys that have a bit of college experience; some guys have high school experience and so are learning with us but,the attitude they have is positive; it’s fun being around them.”
Price encourages everyone to come out and watch the team because he feels the Hawks are an integral part of the base community.
“I think football is one of those things where you can’t help but to enjoy yourself when you come out here. We have people who put a whole lot of heart and soul into playing and I think it is a good outing for the families. We go out of our way to make sure that it’s a family event and I think people will just have a good time – just get outside and see what’s going on.”
Next up for the Seahawks will be two-straight weeks of preseason games; March 30 vs. the Tokyo Hurricanes of Japan’s X-2 Division Football League, followed by an Apr. 5 contest against an X-1Division opponent to-be- determined.