One hundred small children, clad in sharp cleats and bright red uniforms and charging you and two other adults for a soccer ball sounds like something out of a horror movie. But that’s exactly what took place recently when three members of the Japanese national soccer team squared off against a small army of kids.
The 100 vs three soccer match has been a friendly New Year’s Day tradition, and a televised event, in Japan for the past several years. This year’s pros were Yosuke Ideguchi, Hiroshi Kiyotake, and Yotaru Yamaguchi, and the trio made cutting, dribbling, and kicking through a mob of children, well, like another day the office. During the game every one of the kids attacked the ball simultaneously (the first thing you’re taught not to do), making it such that all the three adults needed to do was kick the ball a few feet in the air over their heads to gain the open field — a tactic to remember the next time you host a kid’s birthday party soccer game
It’s safe to say that Ideguchi, Kiyotake, and Yamaguchi were pulling their punches in the friendly game — but not that many. Still, the trio still managed to score a small handful of goals and defeat the kids. Despite the loss, the kids got a few really nice touches, and everyone involved seemed to be enjoying themselves.
While in the U.S., interest in soccer on a national level is relatively new, Japan has had a much longer relationship with the sport. It’s one of the country’s most beloved pastimes and, in 2011, the Japanese national women’s team became the first Asian squad to ever win a World Cup title.