|Courtesy of NOAA.gov|
As the story would have it, although debris from the tsunami has been washing onto Alaska's Aleutian Islands for the last several weeks, a soccer ball that was discovered last week was the first piece of debris tied to a specific owner. It appears to be a knock-off Adidas Tricolore with the 13-digit bar code of "4905741758516", the 490 meaning it's from Japan. The soccer ball was clearly marked with its owners information and words of encouragement as a gift to the young player from his classmates. It drifted in the ocean for over 3,000 miles and although submerged in other debris and salt water for that amount of time, the markings were still quite clear. It belonged to Misaki Murakami, a high school student from Rikuzentakata in Northeast Japan who survived the tsunami when his town and home were destroyed. The wife of the man who found the ball is Japanese and she was able to make some phone call and eventually make contact with Murakami to let him know they found his ball.
You can read the full story on the NYD's site, but the plan at this point is to get the ball back to its owner in the near future. If I was the head of the Japanese Football Association I would reach out to Murakami and ask if the ball could be used in a ceremony the next time Japan hosts a friendly in the country. It is truly an amazing story and finally offers a bit of positive news considering the horrible loss of life and property associated with the tsunami.