In the modern world where Football Clubs are just multi-million dollar businesses intent on just making money and winning silverware, the true meaning of a Football Club is often lost.

First and foremost, a Football Club represents their community; they reflect the spirit and values of its people.

It is often severe hardships that remind us of this, and never has this been truer than in Japan where large parts of the country have been decimated by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Cobaltore Onagawa is a club that few people would have ever heard of, this blogger included. But the events of March 11 changed that.

Onagawa is a small town of about 10,000 people in the Miyagi prefecture, the area hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami. Latest reports have it that 1300 of the 10,000 people who resided in Onagawa were killed. The entire main part of Onagawa was destroyed, including the club office.

Cobaltore was founded in 2006 by the local community as a way of encouraging young people of the town to stay in Onagawa, rather than follow the path of so many and move to the larger cities of Sendai or Tokyo.

The club was a mix of local players and players from outside the area, who were enticed with jobs at the local fish processing plant and accommodation at a local dorm in the middle of town.

The club's objective of uniting the local community was working, with hundreds of people of all ages being attracted to the games. Success wasn't confined to off the pitch either, with the club achieving three promotions in quick succession to go from the local leagues to the regional leagues.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami has changed everything.

Many of their loyal fans didn't survive, the owners of the dorm where the players lived didn't survive and the club's offices and main storage facility, housing the team's merchandise was destroyed. The club's main indoor training facility is now being used as an evacuation centre for 800 people, their main stadium has been taken over by the army who are helping with the relief effort, the main pitch being used as a Helipad.

No one would blame the players if they wanted to get as far away as they could. Most of the foreign players at the J.League clubs returned home, with some staying away for good.

Not the Cobaltore players though.

Even though the club had to withdraw from playing in the Tohoku League for the rest of the season, they have all chosen to stay in their adopted hometown.

Never has their mission of being a club for the community been more important. The players, who lost their accommodation, have taken to staying at the fish processing plant at nights and have been busy in the community working alongside the army to clear up the large amount of debris, working in the same fish processing plant making food, distributing food and water to people in evacuation centres and organising special Football clinics for the youth that are left in the area.

The Football Club is needed now more than ever. The training clinics are more than just a way of occupying the local youth, they are the first steps in rebuilding the community. The worry is that without any way of creating an income for at least 12 months there is a very good chance the Football Club will fold.

This is where the community came to the fore - not the Cobaltore community, but the Football community.

UK-based Mike Innis and Susan Edwards, who both have strong links to Japan, formed the group Onagawa Supporters with the stated aim of saving Cobaltore from extinction and to give Onagawa the chance to stand on its own two feet again.

Given the importance of the Football Club to the community, if the Football Club doesn't survive then Onagawa as a town will suffer greatly as well, something that Mike and Susan, who has a close friend from Onagawa, don't want to see.

The movement has quickly gained traction, with Mike and Susan both in regular contact with Koichi Ohmi, Cobaltore's General Manager, discussing various ways in which they can help raise funds to save the club from extinction.

They might not be as glamorous as a Manchester United or an AC Milan, but Cobaltore Onagawa are a Football Club in the true sense of the word and as Football fans we need to do all we can to ensure they don't become another victim of the devastation

Onagawa Supporters is accepting donations via The website also includes campaign updates, news from Onagawa town and Cobaltore as well as relevant photo and video content. They are also on Facebook at and Twitter @OnagawaSapo.