Japan Women: Forest Leaves Kumamoto Cease Operations

  0 Jeremy Brahm | March 01st, 2018 | Industry, Japanese League, News

In a surprising announcement on March 1, 2018, the Kumamoto Nichinichi Shinbun (newspaper) published an article that the Forest Leaves Kumamoto volleyball team, that had played in V. Challenge League 1, a step below the V. Premier League (top level) had ceased operations on February 28th. Considering that the Challenge League season ended on Sunday, February 25th, that was a very sudden announcement. This means that twice in the last two years, the V. Challenge League 1 has had a team expire from the league, the other team being Sendai Belle Fille.

In the article it was mentioned that since the end of December the players and staff of the team had not been paid by the parent company of the Forest Leaves, Kumamoto Service Center, a building maintenance company. The team did finish their 2017-2018 campaign with a 3-0 sweep of Ohno Oil Hiroshima Oilers on the 25th.

With the V.League changing to a license based system for the 2018-2019 season, Kumamoto according to the presentation by the V.League in December 2017 about which teams had met the different license requirements. The Forest Leaves had actually passed S1 certification, which would allow the team to play in the V1 League in 2018-2019, if the team finished high enough in the V.Challenge League 1. The Forest Leaves had played in the second division (V. Challenge League (2008-2015) and then V. Challenge League 1 (2015-2018) since it was accepted into the V.League. Only in the 2016-2017 season, Kumamoto had its best ever finish in 3rd place, but with a record of 10-11, they were still 30 points away from Denso Airybees and Ageo Medics who were both promoted. For this season, Kumamoto finished 4th with a 5-13 record, and with this finish the Forest Leaves would have been the last team to make it into V1. However, with the Forest Leaves ceasing operations, the team that finished in 5th place, JA Gifu Rioreina, could possibly take their position in V1 as they also have S1 certification. The V.League has not made any announcements at this time about the number of teams that will participate in V1 next season. The league had said that 12 would be the maximum for the V1 League and already have enough teams with S1 certification (even after Kumamoto leaving) to reach that number of teams.


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