Tuesday 25 July 2023, 22:30

Nagasato: It was a triumph for our team and everyone in Japan

"Football is joy, love, hope, peace and passion. Let’s move forward together, because football unites the world."

In a time marked by conflict and crisis, the world is divided. But through the power of football, the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ will bring people together – discovering new cultures, being part of a worldwide community and celebrating together. FIFA’s flagship campaign, Football Unites the World, is a global movement that will inspire, unite and drive development through football, with FIFA Legends sharing stories of what football’s uniting power means to them.

As the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ has kicked off, we spoke to Yuki Nagasato about her experiences. The Japanese striker experienced the uniting power of football first-hand back in summer 2011, when she celebrated the biggest success of her career with the Nadeshiko as they won the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in sensational style. Four months earlier, a major earthquake, devastating tsunami and subsequent nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan, claimed thousands of victims. After this tragedy, the Japan women’s national team made it their mission to "bring hope" and put a smile back on the faces of their people.

FIFA Womens World Cup Germany 2011

"When I held the trophy in my hands, I couldn’t believe it. I dedicated it to everyone affected by the catastrophe in my homeland," said Nagasato, who made history in September 2020 as the first woman to sign for a club in the Japanese men’s professional league, joining Hayabusa Eleven on loan from National Women’s Soccer League side Chicago Red Stars. "It was a very significant moment for all of us. It brought us joy; it brought us together.

"I felt that our victory at the 2011 Women’s World Cup was an important moment not only for women’s football in Japan but for the entire nation," she continued. "As we progressed through the tournament, you could sense everyone coming together – the team and people at home. When I look back, I get the feeling that it was a triumph not just for our team but for everyone in Japan."

Nagasato made a tremendous contribution to the development of women’s football both in Japan and while playing in Germany, England, the USA and Australia, motivating young girls to follow their dreams wherever she went. "Women’s football has experienced an incredible boom over the last few decades. The standard of play and facilities are so much better, and working conditions and wages have improved so much that you can now make a good living from playing football," she explained. "What was a dream for my generation is totally normal for today’s girls. That’s why I hope women’s football and female footballers will continue to gain influence and be in a position to do more for society."