Wednesday 30 October 2019, 15:40

A fan's football caricatures bring her closer to the game

  • Marika Kawaguchi is a member of the FIFA Fan Movement from Japan

  • She combines her love of both football and art to produce unique caricatures

  • Learn about the Fan Movement and join the conversation with #WeLiveFootball

One day while perusing the merchandise and memorabilia on offer at her local football stadium, Marika Kawaguchi realised she wanted more. So she decided to take matters into her own hands.

“I started to think that many football teams don’t have products that I find really cute or cool," Kawaguchi, a member of the FIFA Fan Movement who lives in Japan, told "So I tried to start making my own about five years ago. At first they were just for me, and were mostly t-shirts that featured my favourite players from my favourite teams."

Marika's shared passions for football, futsal and caricature have given her an opportunity to feel closer to the action than she ever previously imagined. Now she shares her artwork with thousands of followers on Instagram and even hosts live caricature drawing events at futsal stadiums. This past summer she travelled to Lyon, France with other Fan Movement members to witness the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup™.

"It makes me feel like I’m also a member of the team, especially when I have the drawing events at stadiums," she said. "I may not be a player but I enjoy the atmosphere of the stadiums, and I’ve had the opportunity to communicate with players and coaches. It’s cool to see their passion up close.”

Kawaguchi has been a fan of Japanese football since her father started taking her to matches in elementary school. They would visit stadiums around the country, and despite her young age, she remembers how the experiences made her feel.

"Those are my first memories of football," she said. "At that time I didn’t know much about it, but I realised how exciting it was. At first my team was a very small local team. Sometimes they would come up against bigger competition and win. Seeing the underdogs prevail was something that hooked me on the sport."

Two-time J1 League champions Kawasaki Frontale are her team of choice as an adult, with club legend Kengo Nakamura cited as her favourite player. The 39-year-old Japan international has made over 500 appearances for the club.

As for her futsal fascination, Kawaguchi attributes it to Kaoru Morioka, the Japanese goalscorer who represented the Samurai Five at the FIFA Futsal World Cup Thailand 2012™.

“In Japan, he's a very popular futsal star," said Kawaguchi. "I was a big fan of him. His life is very unique. His original nationality is Peruvian, but he became a Japanese futsal player. I really liked him, then I started to watch futsal games."

During the year-and-a-half that she's been part of the Fan Movement Kawaguchi says that the newfound global perspective she's gained is what she cherishes most.

“I enjoy getting to meet other Fan Movement members and interacting with what they post on their social media platforms. Usually when I’m in Japan, I’m unable to truly understand and experience the atmosphere of other countries’ stadiums or football cultures. But now I get these experiences through other Fan Movement members, and it's a really cool thing."