Kanagawa: Youngsters battle N.Z. Olympic soccer squads in online matches

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Members of the New Zealand women’s national soccer team play an online soccer game with local children in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, on July 10.

ATSUGI, Kanagawa — The New Zealand men’s and women’s national soccer teams, which held training in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, tested their online football skills against children from a local soccer association.

The event, held at the Rembrandt Hotel Atsugi in the city on July 10, was organized by the city government and other entities in an effort to dispel the sinking mood amid the novel coronavirus crisis.

The athletes and five of the children, who are third- and fourth-grade elementary school students, were divided into two sections and played online soccer matches at the hotel, resulting in exciting gaming.

“It was fun, so I got excited,” said Towa Ishii, 9, a fourth-grade student of Tobio Elementary School.

Emma Rolston, a member of the women’s squad, expressed her disappointment that she could not see the cute smiles of the children because they were wearing masks, but enjoyed playing soccer with them.