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Tuesday, 2nd August 2011
In General Japan News, Sports,

Japanese women's football team to receive top honour

The 'Nadeshiko', Japan's national women's football team, are to be awarded one of the top civil honours that the country can confer, for their victory at the FIFA Women's World Cup.

According to the government, the team will receive the People's Honour Award (or Kokumin Eiyosho), becoming the 19th ever recipients of the prize.

Yukio Edano, Japan's chief cabinet secretary, praised the team for their inspiring play and their triumph against all odds just after the country had gone through a catastrophic natural disaster.

"[The award is given] for inspiring people in Japan with their dedication and attitude not to give up until the very end and for encouraging people to face great difficulties such as the (March 11) catastrophe," he said.

"Nadeshiko Japan has given fresh inspiration to the people with its never-yielding, dedicated attitude."

The phrase 'against all odds' is true on many levels for the Nadeshiko's world cup run. In the final, against the United States, bookmakers were offering 1/2 on the two-time former champions overcoming Japan (who were at much longer odds of 3/2).

Even when they were at the semi-final stage, the Japanese women's football team was still the least-favourite team to win in the eyes of the bookies; having longer odds than the USA, France and Sweden.

Homare Sawa, who was the captain of the cup-winning side, noted the shock and huge pride involved in receiving the plaudit.

""I am surprised and at the same time extremely honored," she said. "I would be very happy if we have been able to provide everyone with hope and energy. The award will encourage me to continue to work hard and achieve good results at the Olympics too."

The People's Honour Award has previously been won by ground-breaking director Akira Kurosawa and Naomi Uemura, who climbed the highest mountains of five continents. The Nadeshiko - named after a Japanese flower - are the first team to ever win the prize.

Written by Mark Smith