Ivy League All-Stars To Play Japan’s National Football Association In ‘Dream Bowl’ On Jan 22nd

TOKYO and PRINCETON, N.J. – The Ivy League has partnered with Japan’s National Football Association (NFA) to compete in the Japan-U.S. Dream Bowl in Tokyo on January 22, the league and organizers officially announced this week.

  • Game will be an Ivy League All-Star team vs. Japan All-Star Team
  • The event is set for Saturday, January 21 at 11 p.m. EST (Sunday, January 22, 1 p.m. JST) at the National Stadium, newly built for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games
  • The Ivy League will send a 52-person roster led by Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli
  • The delegation will arrive in Japan on January 15 and take part in several cultural experiences throughout the trip

The event comes after Japan’s National Football Association reached out to the Ivy League to gauge its interest in competing in the Dream Bowl with the goal of growing the game of football in Japan.

“I am truly excited for the student-athletes and coaches that have this special opportunity to participate in the Japan-U.S. Dream Bowl,” Ivy League Executive Director Robin Harris said.

“The student-athletes will receive an incredible cultural and educational experience during their time in Japan as well as a chance to play the game they love in a unique international setting. It is a testament to the global reputation of the league and the storied tradition of our football programs that the organizers from Japan contacted the Ivy League when developing the vision for this event. We are grateful for their collaboration and share in their excitement to display the skill and talent of Ivy League football to an international audience.”  

The league’s 52-person roster will be comprised of senior and graduate student-athletes from all eight Ivy League programs. The squad will be led by Columbia head coach Al Bagnoli. The Japan All-Star team will be a combined team of X League (Japan’s top American football league) players, including nine Americans (several with NCAA DI and pro experience), college players and crossover sport athletes.

The game will be held on January 21 at 11 p.m. EST in the United States (Sunday, January 22 at 1 p.m. JST locally) at the newly-built National Stadium, site of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The event will be broadcast live in Japan. Delayed rebroadcast options in the United States are still being determined.


The Ivy League delegation will arrive in Tokyo on January 15 and balance its time between preparation for the game along with several Japanese cultural and educational events, including a planned visit to the U.S. Embassy, interaction with Ivy League alumni, discussions with Japanese students and social exchanges with the Japanese team. The league’s group will be joined by two professors from Ivy League institutions to further the educational experience of the travel party.

Additionally, the league and NFA are working with the National Football League (NFL) to integrate NFL pipeline coaches into each roster. The officiating crew will include one Ivy League game referee.

This event is not unprecedented to Ivy League football as the Ivy Epson Bowl existed between 1989 and 1996. Like the Dream Bowl, the game matched up an Ivy League All-Star team against a Japanese All-Star squad.

Take a look at the Japanese team roster below:

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and