UCLA will play International Women's Club Champion INAC Kobe in Okinawa on Mar. 23 in a match that will be televised in Japan on BS Fuji. INAC Kobe features several Japanese National Team players, including Homare Sawa, captain of Japan's 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup champion team and a former WUSA teammate of UCLA head coach Amanda Cromwell. The Bruins will also visit a U.S. military base to conduct a kids' clinic during their stay in Okinawa before heading to Shizuoka, where they will play JFA Academy Fukushima on Mar. 27. The Bruins will also visit Tokyo prior to returning to Los Angeles.
"We're super excited to go to Japan to play INAC Kobe," Cromwell said. "This experience, not only with the level of soccer but the cultural aspect of visiting another country, is going to be very special for this team. As a former player who has traveled and played internationally, I know how much a trip like this can affect the life of an 18-19-20 year-old. It can have a lasting impact on them that will help them mature and be better people and players."
In advance of the trip, UCLA women's soccer has launched an interactive social media map to allow fans to follow the team as they travel through Japan. The #BruinsinJapan All-Access Trip Tracker, accessible at uclasoccer.com/japan, is the first of its kind for social media and athletics. The Trip Tracker will allow fans to see all of the social media posts from the team, players and coaches on an interactive map as they travel in real-time. Fans can click on different stops in the team's journey to see their live trip postings via Instagram and Twitter.
The map also allows fans to directly send messages or "postcards from home" to the team as they travel. Posts from fans sent through the map are posted on the site alongside the team's activity. Fans can also participate in the trip conversation by using the official hashtag of the trip (#BruinsinJapan) from their social profiles.
"Traveling overseas, we wanted to be sure we all had a way to stay in touch with our fans, friends and family back home," said Cromwell. "And with this program, we are excited to continue to give them a personal, behind-the-scenes look into our trip and team atmosphere."
In collaboration with UCLA Women's Soccer, Quantasy, a social media agency located in Los Angeles, helped bring the team's vision to life by building the custom Trip Tracker. The social media technology was developed specifically for UCLA Women's Soccer to provide a one-stop social environment for the team, coaches, players and fans to share their experiences.