The University of Tokyo’s soccer club is the oldest university soccer club in Japan.
In 1918, NOZU Yuzuru In 1925, the club joined the Tokyo College Football League, the forerunner of the current Kanto University Football League, and although the team placed second to Waseda University in the first tournament, it won an unprecedented six consecutive championships from the second tournament. They were the first university team to advance to the finals of the 5th National Championship of Association Football (now Emperor’s Cup), creating a truly golden age for the team. It is said that the blue uniforms of the current Japanese national team are due to the fact that the uniforms of Tokyo Imperial University, which produced many national team players at that time, were light blue.
The team was relegated to the second division of the Kanto region after losing a replacement game in 1956, and was also relegated to the Tokyo Metropolitan University League for the first time in 1977, and has been under the Tokyo Metropolitan University Soccer Federation ever since.
Major alumni include Yuzuru NOZU (4th President of Japan Football Association), Shigemaru TAKEKOSHI (former Japan National Team Manager), and Shunichiro OKANO (9th President of Japan Football Association).
The Dawn of College Football and the A Formula
In today’s Japan, where the sport of soccer is widely spread, almost every university has its own soccer club. However, the history of the University of Tokyo’s soccer club, commonly known as the University of Tokyo Athletic Association’s A-Style Kickball Club (hereinafter referred to as “Todai A-Style”), is different from the history of other university soccer clubs.
To begin with, the field of “university soccer” has a much deeper history than the J-League. This is because universities were the first to introduce soccer as a sport in Japan. Specifically, the Tokyo Higher Normal School (now Tsukuba University) was the first to accept soccer, and from there it spread to other schools, and through the efforts of graduates to popularize soccer throughout Japan, soccer became a part of our common sense.
At Tokyo Imperial University (now the University of Tokyo), the “Tokyo Imperial University A-Style Kickball Club” was established in 1918 by Yuzuru NOZU, an active student at the time who was later selected to represent Japan. Four years later, in 1922, the University of Tokyo Association Football Club, together with the soccer clubs of the prestigious schools of the time (today’s Waseda University, Hitotsubashi University, and Tsukuba University), established the “Technical School Kickball League. This was the first official league competition in Japan, and it contributed greatly to the advancement of soccer in Japan by encouraging university soccer teams to compete seriously and polish each other’s skills. Incidentally, it is said that the University of Tokyo A-Style team was overwhelmingly strong in the early days of the league. In this way, it can be said that the University of Tokyo Association Football Club at the time of its inauguration was a central figure not only in university soccer but also in the early days of Japanese soccer.
At the suggestion of Yuzuru NOZU, a new league was established in 1925, the “Tokyo Collegiate League of Association Football”, with a new management system after one failed attempt. This was the later Kanto League. Although the Tokyo Imperial University’s Association Football Club came in second place in the first tournament, they were quite strong at the time of the league, winning six consecutive championships from the following year.
However, as soccer spread throughout the country, the glamorous history of the club gradually faded away.
In 1956, the “The University of Tokyo Association Football Club” was relegated from the Kanto 1st Division to the 2nd Division, and in 1977, it was relegated from the Kanto 2nd Division to the Tokyo Metropolitan 1st Division. After that, the team mainly moved up and down between the first and second divisions of the Tokyo Metropolitan League.
The most recent was in 2009. Two years later, in 2011, we won the first division championship as well, and were one step closer to reaching the long-awaited Kanto League. Two years later, in 2011, they won the first division championship and came close to reaching the long-awaited Kanto League.
Nowadays, there are plenty of J-League teams, corporate club teams, and soccer clubs of other private universities all over the country that are stronger than us. In this day and age, the records of the past are not very familiar to us, and we can only think that they must have been strong in the past. However, it is important not to be disheartened by these glamorous records, but to steadily build them up, step by step, and open a new page in the history of The University of Tokyo Association Football Club.