Aoashi manga author Yugo Kobayashi and non profit organization ‘love.fútbol’ Japan announced a scholarship program on Dec 1, 2022, to support children and families in Japan who have difficulty continuing to play soccer due to economic poverty and social disparity.
The Aoashi Scholarship will provide a grant of 200,000 yen to children between sixth grade of elementary school and second year of junior high school to cover the tuition fee and soccer expenses including club fee, equipment purchase cost, food cost etc. Additionally a grant of 300,000 yen will be provided to children between third year of junior high school to third year of high school.
The program will be implemented for a year at first, from mid-January 2023 to the end of February 2024, with funds being provided from Kobayashi’s STUDIO 1846.
The applications will be accepted from mid-January, when the program starts.
Kobayashi said that he was inspired by Takehiko Inoue who had launched a similar scholarship program (Slam Dunk Scholarship) years before Aoashi manga began serializing. The author always wondered if he could do something similar for aspiring young football players in the country.
At that time, Japanese footballer Kentaro Moriya introduced the author to love.fútbol, a non-profit organisation who was working towards the same goal that Kobayashi had.
He explained his thought process in a special message, a translation of which is given below!
I am Yugo Kobayashi, the author of “Aoashi. I am pleased to announce the opening of the “Aoashi Scholarship.
Many years before I published my work, I was impressed by the “Slam Dunk Scholarship” that Mr. Takehiko Inoue had started, which was based on a portion of the income from his works, and I was impressed by the way he not only published his works but also tried to help athletes in this way.
I have been able to continue to draw soccer manga to this day, and I have always wondered if I could do something similar. In “Aoashi,” the main character, Ashito is a single child who lives with his mother, and the issue of the financial burden of continuing to play soccer is brought into focus. I unconsciously depicted many other players who have difficulty continuing to play soccer, such as Akutsu, who is in even more difficult circumstances than Ashito, and Trepone, who has been exposed to racist issues since childhood.
I am sure that this was because I myself grew up in a single-mother home, and when I think about it now, it was certainly an environment where money was scarce. However, my mother was a strong woman who never let her children feel that. I got into drawing manga because it was something I could do all the time as long as I had paper and pencil.
But soccer is expensive if you want to keep playing at a high level. Spikes wear out, sizes don’t fit anymore, and you have to get a set of practice uniforms. You have to pay for travel expenses to play matches. There are parents all over Japan who want their children to continue playing soccer, but feel limited and worried.
At that time, Kentaro Moriya, former Ehime FC player (currently a member of Sagan Tosu in 2022), introduced me to love.fútbol, a group of people who are fighting the problem of poverty among children who want to continue playing sports. With their great cooperation, we have decided to open the “Aoshi Incentive Fund”.
Of course, we would like to continue this endeavor every year for a long time. But in order to see in what way we can contribute to soccer, and to see if this will really help a lot of people, we will first accept applications for the first one in the year 2023.
If this becomes a great success, in cooperation with the many current J-League players who work with love.fútbol, we would love to continue.
We would be happy if we could help families who are struggling with their thoughts and feelings.
Aoashi is a manga written and illustrated by Yūgo Kobayashi. It has been serialized in Shogakukan‘s seinen manga magazine Weekly Big Comic Spirits since January 2015. The manga has over 15 million copies in circulation.
The series involves youth football player Ashito Aoi and his journey and experiences in the Tokyo Esperion youth academy.
In 2020, the manga won the 65th Shogakukan Manga Award for the general category. An anime adaptation by Production I.G. aired on April 2022 in Japan.
Source: Ao-ashi fund