Japan korfball’s new generation intent on a win
At this year’s tournament in Durban, Japan returns to the IKF Korfball World Championship for the first time since 2003. They also participated four years earlier. In 1999 they finished twelfth out of 12 countries, and four years later they finished sixteenth out of 16, scoring a total of just six goals across the two tournaments.
Their objective in 2019 is simple: to win a game.
Originally from England, Marc Brazzill has been part of the regeneration of Japanese korfball, which traces back to 2012, under Yoshimitsu Tobisa, known throughout korfball as Tobi.
“At that point there were only 11 people playing korfball in Japan. Still, it was enough, and we managed to bring a new team together, in Tokyo, to play in the IKF Asian Korfball Championship 2013, in China, and then the IKF Asia Oceania Korfball Championship 2014, in Hong Kong.
“Of those 11, six of us are still playing and preparing for South Africa, and a seventh was part of the team that ensured we qualified last year,” he says.
Marc was not able to play for Japan initially, using his korfball experience as a coach. Now naturalised, he was eligible to represent his adopted country at the IKF AOKC 2018, which Japan hosted in Saitama, and where they finished fifth to secure IKF WKC qualification.
Also bringing korfball experience from another country, Akiko Tsujikawa will coach Japan in South Africa. Akiko previously played for Hong Kong where she is still heavily involved with korfball, having managed the Hong Kong team at the recent IKF U19 Korfball World Cup 2019, before serving as tournament director for the IKF U21 AOKC in Shaoxing, China, in May. She’s now switched roles again, traveling to Japan for training camps to prepare the team for Durban.
Wearing number 29, Yuki Anzai is one of Japan’s newer stars, and was named in the tournament team at the IKF AOKC in Saitama last year. Marc rates his team mate as one of Japan’s best players.
“Although she is so little, just 1.48m, if she plays well she has a big influence. Yuki was originally a footballer. After finishing university she volunteered on a sports programme in Uzbekistan, run by the Japanese government. When she came home in 2015 she was looking to get back into sports and she came across korfball on social media, did some research, attended a training session, and has never looked back,” he says.
Yuki is also a social media expert, where her skill and engaging personality has helped Japanese korfball to expand. In the last seven years Marc says they have grown the sport into several different cities.
“Back in 2012, when we first started to rebuild, we only had korfball in Tokyo. Since then, we have taken it into six regions, going west along the coast to Nagoya, Osaka and Okayama, as well as further north into Ishikawa. Our national championships, with teams from most of those regions, have definitely grown,” he says.
In South Africa Japan should improve on its current IKF ranking of 24, though is in a challenging pool with Germany, Portugal and the host country. With the core group of the team now into their early 30s, after Durban some personnel changes are likely.
“Tobi stepped down from the national federation last year. We are now focused on strengthening the organisation. Four of us from 2012 are now on the exco. While there are younger players coming through to take the team forward, those of us that have come this far together still plan to be involved, playing for our clubs, and continuing to promote korfball,” says Marc.
#TeamJAP IKF WKC 2019
1: Chisato Tanaka
4: Yu Furuki
7: Ren Nagai
10: Keisuke Mashiba
13: Sho Furuki
14: Miki Watanabe
17: Marc Brazzill
19: Ikuha Nakajo
22: Mayo Oya
23: Hirotaka Kimura
24: Kohei Kaminaga
26: Toru Nakamura
27: Ryo Kato
29: Yuki Anzai
Coach: Sho Furuki
Manager: Akiko Tsujikawa
Officials: Yuichi Takezaki, Kohsuke Fujihara
#TeamJAP on social media:
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Dani Ezpeleta2019-07-22 11:59:592019-07-28 07:36:59#TheTeamFiles: Japan (IKF WKC 2019)