The Legends Campaign, a partnership between Reign FC and Avanade, honors women for their extraordinary contributions in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Prior to our May 18 match against Sky Blue FC, Reign FC will recognize former Reign player Nahomi “Naho” Kawasumi as a Reign FC Legend.
Kawasumi grew up in Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo, where she became interested in soccer after watching her older sister play. After attending Nippon Sport Science University, Kawasumi went pro with INAC Kobe Leonessa, where she quickly established herself as one of the league’s top players. Kawasumi helped INAC to its first league title in 2011, posting an unbeaten 12-0-3 record while drawing league MVP honors. The forward was named to the L. League’s Best XI for four consecutive years from 2010-2013, during which time she began playing with future Reign teammate Beverly Yanez.
Naho and her teammates on the Japan WNT captured the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy in 2011 in dramatic fashion, besting the U.S. Women’s National Team on penalties. Kawasumi also picked up a silver medal in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
In 2014, Kawasumi joined Reign FC on loan from INAC. She scored nine goals and added five assists, earning a spot on the NWSL Best XI while the club won its first NWSL Shield. Kawasumi returned to Japan for 2015, but signed with Reign FC on a permanent basis for the 2016 season.
Kawasumi became an integral part of the club during her time with Reign FC, establishing herself as a favorite with teammates and fans for her infectious spirit, technical ability, and creativity on the pitch. The forward played four seasons with the club, making 70 appearances while scoring 18 goals and adding 16 assists.
“On behalf of our players, our fans, and our entire organization, I want to thank Naho for all she has given to our club and to the game,” said Reign FC owner Bill Predmore. “It was an honor to have her play for our club, not only for her contributions on the pitch, but for who she is as a person. She is a truly a Reign FC legend.”
When she learned that she would be celebrated as a Reign FC Legend, Kawasumi issued the following statement:
“Ten years ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself playing overseas,” Kawasumi said. “Now, here I am being recognized as a Reign Legend. It’s like a dream. This season, I belong to another club, but I want to keep pursuing my dreams with you guys. My thanks to Reign FC and its supporters.”
What does being recognized as a Reign FC Legend mean to you?
I am so grateful to know that people at Reign FC are still thinking of me. I am so happy to know that and I’m very thankful.
What made you wish to join Reign FC from INAC Kobe Leonessa after your loan ended in 2014?
When I was thinking about playing overseas, Reign FC approached me. They contacted me at the right moment. I think it was just meant to be my destiny to play here.
What has soccer meant for you in your life?
Soccer is my life. I eat, sleep, laugh and play soccer.
What is your favorite memory of your time at Reign FC?
I have too many fond memories with Reign FC to choose just one. Every game, especially (that first season in 2014) was so incredibly exciting to me. I had so much fun playing with my new teammates that first year.
What accomplishments are you proudest of during your time with the club?
We won some, lost some and experienced different things together, but the fact that I met amazing teammates with the club and that I was able to enjoy playing soccer with them is my proudest accomplishment with the club.
How important is it to have professional women’s sports teams?
It doesn’t really matter if it’s men or women, but I hope there are always opportunities for us to express ourselves in our own unique way. I know women athletes are still behind men in some ways, so I think for women to do well on the field as professional athletes gives people hope to pursue their dreams.
What advice would you give to young women who are pursuing dreams in a field where they are underrepresented?
You hear ‘if you work hard and do your best, your dream will come true.’ Well, that’s not the right statement. I think it’s very important to work hard and give your everything until your dream comes true. Things don’t always go your way in life, but if you keep going and keep pursuing a dream, you will achieve something wonderful. It might not be what you were pursuing in the beginning, but it will be what you want when you finally achieve it.