Ambassador's Commendation for Middlesex Wanderers Football Club
(updated 28 Oct 03)
Ambassador Orita with Mr Douglas Fay, Chairman of Middlesex Wanderers, and Mr Shinichiro Okano, Honorary Chairman of the Japan Football Association
Middlesex Wanderers Football Club was presented with the Ambassador's Commendation during a ceremony held at the Embassy on October 21. The event coincided with the 130th anniversary of the introduction of football to Japan by Lt Cdr Archibald Douglas, during a training mission for the fledgling Imperial Navy at the invitation of the Meiji Government. (Speech by Ambassador Orita)
Middlesex Wanderers FC was founded in 1905 as a touring team, with the objective of promoting 'good fellowship among the football and other sporting organisations throughout the world'. The team is selected from semi-professional footballers around the UK by a committee and has so far visited over 40 different countries. Acting as an ambassador for the UK is an integral part of the team's ethic, and this affords them the opportunity to interact with different cultures, such as Japan which they first visited in 1967. That first tour was so successful that they were invited to play again in 1969, when they presented a trophy to the Football Association of Japan (JFA), requesting that it be used to help promote the sport among Japan's youth. The trophy is still used today as the prize in the annual National High School Football Tournament. Middlesex Wanderers have since visited Japan on seven occasions, most recently in 1990, and have become models of fair play to many young Japanese players.
Ambassador Orita and Mr Shinichiro Okano with senior members of Middlesex Wanderers FC
The Ambassador's Commendations were introduced in 2000 in order to recognise the contributions of those who had made outstanding efforts to promote grassroots exchange between the UK and Japan. The Award was accepted on behalf of the club by its chairman, Mr Douglas Fay. Also present was Shunichiro Okano, Honorary President of the JFA and Vice President of the Middlesex Wanderers FC, who flew to London especially to attend the ceremony. Mr Okano paid tribute to the club for the tremendous impact it has had on the development of football in Japan.