YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Next year’s Far East soccer tournaments will be moved from late April to mid-May, according to the Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council calendar for the 2004-’05 school year.

The switch was made with three potential problem areas in mind, said Don Hobbs, DODDS-Pacific’s Far East Activities Council chief:

• Avoid conflict with the Advanced Placement and Scholastic Aptitude Testing period.

• Bypass travel during the busy Japanese “Golden Week” holiday.

• Allow the Japan Soccer League to use Far East as its season finale. A year ago, JSL teams played regular-season games after Far East.

“We wanted to make sure the Far East tournaments were season-culminating events,” said Hobbs, who attended this week’s Class AA boys tournament at Yokota. “Hopefully, by moving to mid-May, we can avoid those problems. Hopefully, we can accommodate everybody.”

Response to the move was mostly positive.

“Absolutely. Far East should be the culminating event for everybody’s season,” said Yokota boys coach Tim Pujol. “You’d like to have all your regular-season games played, so when Far East comes, they’ll play the best soccer that you want them to play.”

From their inception in 1998, the Far East soccer tournaments generally took place in the last week of May.

But that brought complaints from coaches in South Korea and Okinawa, where the regular season ends in late April, creating a lengthy gap before the tournament. Guam High officials said Far East was scheduled too close to its graduation in late May.

So last season, Far East was pushed back to late April, sparking a wave of discontent from JSL coaches.

“We’d heard complaints that players were missing practices and that the matches were anticlimatic,” Hobbs said.

“Golden Week,” a series of holidays that serves as a mini-vacation for many Japanese, turns seats on many airline flights into premium purchases.

Guam High’s two soccer teams, for example, either had to return to the island on Friday night or wait until Tuesday, forcing some students to miss advanced-placement (AP) exams, said boys coach Eugene Macadagum.

author picture
Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now