17 February 2008

2008 Preseason Fan Rally

As last year, Mito's fan rally took place at the Uchihara Aeon Jusco Shopping Center, Japan's largest shopping mall. Hundreds of fans and interested onlookers packed the promenade as well as the rails on the 2nd and 3rd floor overlooking the floor area.

To start things were statements from local politicians and then club president Miyata. The new stadium to be opened next year was pushed as something to look forward to, and there was hope expressed for the team to reach J1 this season or next with the new direction being taken.

The cheerleaders then performed, and there are many new members. Three numbers were performed with the third including the 50 or so 3-13 year olds making up the youth cheerleading teams.

The players were introduced, and there were speeches by Ibaraki natives Honma and Owada, new captain Hiramatsu, top goalscorers Shiozawa and Nishino, and head coach Kiyama. Then, all the new players introduced themselves followed by the players from last season. Most of those in attendance were impressed with Bruno Hilario's Japanese self-introduction, perhaps not realizing he attended high school in Japan. Then, a few key players gave their hopes for the year. The most ambitious was Hiramatsu who hoped for a game to be attended by at least 10,000 fans.

At the end, the cheerleaders brought out a small cake and sang "Happy Birthday" to head coach Kiyama, who turns 36 years old.

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