PB Japan: a supporters’ club loyal to Catalan traditions
REPORTS 23 Jul 2019 - World Congress of Supporters' Clubs
Know the history of the first penya blaugrana in Asia that with less than 20 years has reached over 600 members
“My company asked me to relocate to Barcelona in 1992, which coincided with the era of the Dream Team. Cruyff had always been my idol and relocating to the Catalan capital was a dream come true for me,” remembers Hiroki Nakano, president of the Penya FC Barcelona Japan. “The day I arrived, the sky was full of fireworks and I found out through the newspapers that Barça had won at Wembley.”
In this historical context, Nakano arrived in Barcelona without knowing that he’d stay for a whole decade. During that time, he adopted Catalan traditions and fell even more in love with the city he now considers his second home. In 2002, he returned to Japan with one dream: to create a blaugrana supporters’ club in his country.
FC Barcelona in Asia
That’s how Penya FC Barcelona Japan was born in 2003. “In the beginning, we were just five members and almost nobody in Japan knew of Barça. Today, we’re more than 600 supporters,” confirms the organisation president. What started out as a project and a personal dream has become one of the largest FC Barcelona supporters’ clubs in the world in terms of numbers. Japan is also one of the territories with the largest number of members after Spain.
The supporters’ club, now completely consolidated, organises activities and events. Despite the time difference, members get together to watch the most important first team matches online, even though they are streamed in the early hours of the morning. And, despite the huge distance, the association feels strong ties with the Club because, as they claim, FC Barcelona is the sports club with a philosophy closest to that of Japanese culture.
With the constitution and growth of the supporters’ club, interest in football has grown significantly in Japan. Fully aware of that, the association is working every day to instil blaugrana values into the Asian continent. “Our mission is to be the ambassadors of FC Barcelona in our country and to convey to every citizen what it is that connects us to the Club, something which goes much further than just football. It involves values that, in my opinion, are fundamental,” assures Nakano.
In addition, the supporters’ club has been prepared for what it considers to be a very important occasion: Barcelona’s pre-season tour in Asia. “We want to make a mosaic like the ones they make at Camp Nou, and we want to try en ensure that the children can go to watch a training session, or even today's match,” the Japanese supporters’ club president concludes emotionally.