Japan's Goal-den wonder

The sun came out, along with the dignitaries, children and footballers from the prefecture of Fukushima, 200km North East of Tokyo today, to witness the inauguration of a world 'first'.

The Japanese FA Medical Centre based at the J-Village is the first of its kind, and was officially opened following an $800,000 USD FIFA contribution through the GOAL programme.

The J-Village is the first football specific national training centre in Japan and was opened in July 1997. The facility is used as a training camp by various clubs including the Japan National team, as well as hub for delivering Coaching courses and referee courses.

FIFA President, Joseph S. Blatter, alongside JFA President Motoaki Inukai and FIFA Executive Member and JFA Vice-President Junji Ogura symbolically cut the ribbon and unveiled a plaque in the company of the Governor of Fukushima, Mr Sato and the Mayor of Naraha Town, marking the latest phase in the facilitiy's evolution.

The JFA Academy is a combined middle and high school educational institution which was opened in April 2006. The Academy students attend the local middle and high schools while living at the Academy. In addition to football activities at the ample facilities of J-Village, emphasis is also placed on personal and social development education.

Any facility which seeks to help improve and monitor the health of players is therefore very important.
FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter.

Blatter, in the company of members of FIFA's Development team saw the realisation of the first Medical Centre in the world opened, and was visibly impressed by what he saw, before meeting some of the children who are currently based at the J-Village.

"This is definitely a great day and something that everyone involved in Japanese football should be very proud of" he told the guests and media.

"Unfortunately in football there have been a number of recent tragedies, the most recent the death of the captain of Espanyol (Daniel Jarque) in Spain. Any facility which seeks to help improve and monitor the health of players is therefore very important.

"Not all countries are fortunate enough to have the same facilities. When FIFA undertook some medical testing with eight African countries recently and their U17 age group, 63% of the players had never received a medical check-up in their life."

The GOAL Programme was launched in 1999 and since then over $215million USD has been invested by FIFA across 189 countries and more than 380 projects.

The project in Fukushima saw the Medical Centre co-funded by FIFA through 2 GOAL phases. $400,000 USD was for the Medical Centre and another $400,000 USD was contributed towards the purchase of medical equipment.

Blatter travels next to Thailand where he will inaugurate the Tsunami Memorable Football Centre in Phuket tomorrow, before completing his brief trip to Asia by opening another GOAL project on Wednesday in Bangkok.