Cultural divide changing between Australia and Japan

Former Japanese A-League player Naoki Imaya is on a mission to bridge the gap between Australia and Japan’s cultural and football differences.

Now based in Tokyo, the former New Zealand Knights midfielder has set up a school that teaches football in English to Japanese youngsters and adults.

"I went to Sydney at the age of 10 with my family, and was put into a local school without being able to speak a word of English,” he said.

"But I picked it up through playing various sport activity. The same concept is applied to my school where I teach football in English.

"I was able to learn a lot from playing football in four different countries," he continues.

"Difference in culture, background, colour, whatever it may be, but I know for sure that football can put us all together.

"Aiming to be a world class player would be on anybody’s mind who have tried to pursue a career in this beautiful game, but I think it is more important to aim to be a first class human being.

"I believe I have some things I can pass onto some of the kids in Japan and I thought opening this kind of a school was the perfect way for me to get the message across to them."

Imaya also added that he was trying to integrate the two nations differing styles into one.

"The Japanese youth definitely focus very heavily on technical aspects of the game, and perhaps they have to realise it is only one aspect of the game," he added.

"I think we can learn from each other as the Australian players are more athletic than the Japanese, but lack in technical abilities. They are both very important aspects of the game, being athletic and having technical abilities.

"I hope in the future I can help the youth from Australia and Japan in some kind of an exchange program where they could learn each others' football style and build a better relationship between the countries as well."

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