Hometown glory: How Japanese soccer club rose above disaster
(CNN) -- It was a promise that seemed to owe as much to optimism and sentimentality as reason.
When the notoriously passionate fans of Vegalta Sendai, a small, understated soccer club playing in Japan's J-League, stood before their team as they took on Kawasaki Frontale, they unfurled a large banner for the world to see.
"Thank you for all [our] friends," it read. "We do not lose until we regain a hometown."
Yet it is a promise that Vegalta Sendai has managed to keep. Sendai, and its football club, were devastated in Japan's earthquake and tsunami.
But since the restart of the Japanese football league, the unfashionable club has gone on a remarkable run, remaining unbeaten this season with a chance to secure their very first league title in the face of disaster.
Since it began life 23 years ago, Vegalta Sendai has led something of a quiet life, spending almost all of its time in Japan's second division, before finally wining promotion to Japan's top tier in 2009.
But on March 11, that all changed... (READ ON)