By Orrin Farries
For several months, Aoi Komori, a Japanese player on NAIT’s women’s soccer team has been on a steep learning curve: navigating her way on a new team in a new city in a new country all while learning how to speak a new language.
Hailing from Naruto, a city on Shikoku island in south of Japan, Komori came to NAIT determined to let her footwork and game-sense do the talking for her on the pitch and to be a part of a winning dynamic. It was to Komori’s great excitement that her mother and sister travelled nearly 8,000 kilometres from Japan to visit and watch her play in the ACAC provincial championships.
“I was really happy,’’ said Komori, when asked how she felt having her family’s in-person support of her soccer pursuits.
In the regular season, Komori scored 14 goals, while gathering another seven assists, directly being a part of 27% of the Ooks scoring this year.
“She’s a very talented player, technically. I would say she’s probably our best technical player on the team,” said head coach Carole Holt, who was awarded the ACAC North Women’s Soccer Coach of the Year for the third year in a row.
Holt praised Komori’s performance in the provincial gold medal final when the Ooks picked up a 2-1 win against their rival, the Concordia Thunder.
“Her game awareness is excellent,” said Holt.
“She finds spaces to receive the ball, and she’s brave to go in areas where she sometimes gets tackled. In the final in particular, it was a very physical game for her but she continued to make the runs and she created opportunities for her teammates just because of that work that she was doing.”
With the confidence of her family, her coach, and her teammates, Komori has overcome her personal challenges and helped put the Ooks in a position to compete for a national championship.