Hard on the heels of Nadeshiko Japan's triumph at the women's soccer World Cup, Japan now has its first corporate women's rugby sevens team and a plan to establish itself as a world power in that sport.
Rugby sevens, a fast-flowing, seven-a-side version of rugby, will become an official Olympic event from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games in Brazil.
Hakuteikai, a foundation that runs hospitals and other medical facilities in Yokohama and Tokyo, last week launched an in-house women's rugby sevens team called Totsuka Kyoritsu Medical Sevens, or TKM7.
The foundation's main goal is to train Japanese national team members. It will also help athletes establish second careers after retirement and promote the long-term growth of women's rugby in Japan.
Most of the 2,000-plus women who play rugby in Japan currently belong to noncorporate amateur clubs.
TKM7 plans to hire players as hospital staff at medical institutions run by Hakuteikai. They will be able to practice rugby for two hours a day in a stadium used by the Hakuteikai-affiliated soccer club Yokohama FC. The players will have opportunities to work in the medical field after they retire.
"We were able to establish an environment for women to devote themselves to rugby," said TKM7 manager Akio Ueda.
For the foundation, there are other benefits. Director Hideo Yokokawa said: "Some 75 percent of our employees are women. The launch of the women's rugby team is boosting morale."
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