Any fan of Japan’s women’s hockey team will admit that they don’t exactly expect the girls to take Olympic gold anytime soon– but the team is loved anyway.
Although the team places second in every Asian Winter Games since 1996, they are ranked 10th in the world and generally struggle with international competition. In fact, Japan’s spot at the Sochi Games is the first time in the country’s history that it qualified into the Olympics in women’s hockey.
Despite this, Japan’s women’s hockey team is consistently a fan favorite. They’ve been described as “the smiley-est group ever known.” This is perfect seeing as the team’s nickname is “Smile Japan.”
The girls are known for their positive energy and love of celebration. Because of this, they have gained a handful of fans despite their scores at Sochi.
“We hoped to get a better result, but we are still positive,” one of the players said when Japan lost 4-0 to Germany. “We wanted to make our fans smile for us. Despite this, we hope we can still make them smile.”
This doesn’t seem like a very difficult task for the girls at all. Upon arriving at Sochi, the team was given some practice time. How did they utilize it? Certainly not by running drills or practicing every second they were given. Instead, they took pictures, played around in the ice and relished every moment of being on Olympic ice.
Check out the super cute pictures below.