Long post (repost)
King Nao - soccer legend
My home town has given birth to so many soccer players. So much so that Japanese people call Fujieda the soccer city. It's famous for soccer because of Fujieda Higashi High School's Japanese championship winning soccer team, where the likes of Japanese national captain Makoto Hasebe started their careers. But it's famous for another reason. Back in the Fujieda of the 1960s, when baseball was the national obsession, there was one man who had a passion for soccer and he wanted children to share his passion. At a time when kids were only interested in playing catch with a baseball, he wanted to teach them how to play the 'beautiful game'. So in 1963 he set up Japan's first boys' soccer club in Fujieda. For the next few decades, he coached hundreds, probably thousands, of young players, introducing them to a sport that not only changed their lives but started to shape a community. He played, too, right up until the age of 89 - a stroke that paralysed the right side of his body the only thing stopping him from kicking a ball. Until that point, he was a regular fixture at the local soccer ground, teaching kids the basics - passing, dribbling, shooting. He didn't just stand back and watch, either: he showed them, even in his 80s, how to do it.
Still coaching and playing, even as a senior, people started calling him 'King Nao', Fujieda's very own 'king Pele'. He even has an annual tournament named after him, the Yamamoto Cup, which is now in its 46th year.
King Nao, my grandfather.
He didn't want to become a local celebrity - he just had one, simple wish. He wanted everyone to enjoy soccer, to know how great a game it is.
My grandfather is now 97, and the end is drawing near. I saw him last in November, and although I thought it might be the final time we got to talk, it seems that it's now really so. While he is still here with us, I wanted to tell everyone about him. If one day Fujieda and Penrith, which are Sister Cities, could come together through soccer, I think my grandfather would be proud.
And I want my boys to understand the legacy that my grandfather left.
#清水屋スポーツ #soccer #soccerlegend #98yearsyoung #サッカー