FC Gifu chairman Onda vows to continue work despite ALS diagnosis

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Onda speaks to reporters after assuming chairman role in April 2014

Division 2 club on Friday announced that chairman has been diagnosed with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease which gained public attention last year through the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Onda, an executive who took over the post last April, addressed the public through a statement on the club’s official website.

“It’s said that those who have [ALS] are unlucky, but I don’t consider that true of myself,” Onda wrote. “That’s because my calling as one of less than 50 J.League club presidents is to interact with our fans on a regular basis.

“While I was an amateur to football when I arrived here, since last season I have come to understand the potential of sports and the enthusiasm of those involved in the game has pushed me forward. Since taking my post at FC Gifu I have met many in the community and received their support.

“Because of that I did not panic after receiving my diagnosis and I have not lost sight of what I must do.

“ALS may affect my body, but as long as it does not affect my mind I will continue to serve as chairman as long as possible and work for the city of Gifu.”

The club, based in central ’s Gifu Prefecture, drew attention in 2014 through the signings of former internationals Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi and Alessandro Santos as well as the appointment of another former Samurai Blue player, Rui Ramos, as their manager.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, in which participants dump buckets of ice water over the heads to promote awareness of the disease through videos uploaded to YouTube and other social media sites, spread throughout the J-League in 2014 after players were challenged by colleagues in European leagues.