Japanese football players in the Fortuna League are no longer a surprise. However, it is worth paying attention to their path, which they followed all the way to the Slovak first-class lawns.
Legionnaires in our highest football league have long been nothing special. Slovak first-class football opens its doors to players from a wide spectrum and even from all corners of the planet.
And now read carefully – according to the available statistics, football players from 104 different countries of the world have scored at least one minute in the Slovak top league, for all history in the era of independence!
Among them is distant Japan. No one finds it strange anymore when they think about the fact that footballers from the land of the “rising sun” had the chance to run on the lawns of the Slovak league. In total there have been three teams in the Fortuna League so far, and only one specific is currently fighting for a chance to settle Jusi Šimamura.
Jusi Zimamura, MFK Zemplin Michalovce
The same as Cubasa Nisic in 2018 and until recently Such an OshimaJuši also got a place in the jersey of the MFK Zemplín Michalovce club.
The story of how these players from East Asia came to the football fields of the country under the Tatras and then to Zemplín is also interesting. Cubasa Nishi came to MFK from neighboring Poland, but Takuto Oshima and Juši Šimamur surprisingly from IV. Slovak league.
Oshima, now a key player of the Polish base Krakow Krakowon the way to Michalovice from the club TJ Družstevnik Župčanyand his compatriot Juši Šimamura from the team ŠK Tvrdosín. Today, both teams mentioned are playing a lower league level.
ŠK Tvrdošín has been betting on Japanese football players for a long time
Source: FB – ŠK Tvrdosín
From distant Japan to Orava
We spoke to Peter Machunkwho is the top man of the football club Tvrdošín, ie a team open to the deployment of foreign players, which is clearly confirmed by two other Japanese in Tvrdošín Tatsuya Onodera a Ryoudai Ishimaru. In addition to them, Srb also “kicks” on Orava Andrija Dunisijevic and a midfielder from faraway Colombia Fabrizzio Tamasco Sanchez.
Even the fact that four foreigners play in a Slovakian fifth division club is not an outright rarity these days, but the thought of two Japanese players playing for Tvrdošín, and they are not the first in the club, will certainly raise many an eyebrow.
“I have a very good friend in Japan who matches young footballers from there to Slovakia.” explains Peter Machunka to ŠPORT.sk, who in Tvrdošín not only takes care of running the club, but is even the goalkeeper of ŠK.
“First of all it’s about showing them in a good light here and then selling them in Europe. They want to be in Slovakia, Czech Republic or Poland. The first two Japanese we had here were Ryuki Hayashi and Jun Yamamoto. Both excellent players. Ryuki is a bit older and now works as a football manager, which he gradually took over from my friend from Japan.” the chairman of ŠK Tvrdošín continues.
Peter Machunka and Juši Šimamura on the way from the airport
Source: Archives of Petr Machunk
From Argentina to Orava for half a year. For 70 euros
The absolute most successful Japanese player to pass Tvrdošín is a 22-year-old creative midfielder Jusi Simamura. He currently plays for MFK Zemplin Michalovce. At the same time, he went to Orava from the completely opposite end of the planet – from Argentina, where he tried in the reserves of a well-known club Newell’s Old Boys.
“He called and said he would like to come and show himself. He saw that we were giving shelter, food and some money to our Japanese footballers so that they could have something to live on and on top of that I would pick them up and take them to the airport He said it’s no problem and he’ll cover everything, he just wants to show up.” describes Peter Machunka’s first meeting with Šimamur.
“He was with us for three weeks at the end of the season and we immediately saw from his first touches with the ball that he is an excellent footballer. I immediately came to the conclusion that such a player does not exist here in IV. should pay attention in the competition and go higher”, goalkeeper Tvrdošín was interviewed, “I told him to go back to Japan and come back to us in the winter and play half a season with the opportunity to continue. You could see he was in a much higher league in terms of performance.”
The Japanese Takuto Oshima from IV. competitions via Michalovce, Krakow reached Krakow
“Of course the I. League is a big jump. He has played and trained with us for half a year and in the meantime I approached Miro Nemec, Michaloviec coach at the time, and told him what kind of player we have in the team. So let them give it a try. If they’re happy, they can eventually hire him.” said Peter Machunka to the address of a Tokyo resident, briefly recalling his union from faraway Argentina.
“When he finished school, we asked him to Tvrdošín from there. He cost us 70 euros because he came to us as an amateur. But after he graduated with us for half a year and we couldn’t find anything for him, he would probably go back to Japan I’m glad he finally decided to stay and now he’s already playing his first minutes for Michalovce Juši is a great player and even if Norbert Hrnčár doesn’t give him that many chances I’m convinced his time will come.” he claims.
ŠK Tvrdošín also bets on foreign footballers
Source: FB – ŠK Tvrdosín
“pure” Slovak learning and connecting two worlds
It is not easy for anyone to just change the environment and adapt. Everything is new to you, you have to get used to everything and get used to the environment. It is often difficult if you just change your address within Slovakia. Not so when we talk about the Japanese who decided to try their luck on Orava.
“I’ll tell you honestly – I was also surprised that these guys showed an interest in going to these parts,” laughs Peter Machuka, “Tacuja Onodera is with us thanks to Jushi because they are friends. He was in II. competition in Malta where it failed due to the fact that they already had too many foreigners. We took him with the realization that he will have to work hard here to get anywhere.”
The people of Tvrdošín were immediately fond of the young football players from far Asia. “I was afraid that the people here would not treat them well and bypass them, but the opposite is happening. Just as they walk through the city, they are immediately greeted. In short, they have a good time here.
The first two players, namely Ryuki Hayashi and Jun Yamamoto, made a good name for Japanese football players here. People liked them and that’s why they like going to football.” continues.
“They immediately tried to learn English, but also picked up some Slovak words. Of course, as usual, the first thing they learned in the cabin was swearing. That’s what they learned the fastest” laughed Peter Machunka, “but they are very decent guys, hardworking and most importantly non-conflicting.”
Peter Machunka and Japanese football players in ŠK Tvrdošín
Source: FB – ŠK Tvrdosín
A pleasure to work with them. Non-conflict and hardworking
Japan is also known for its dedication to the cause and discipline. They have the opportunity to see something similar in the Durvošín club. Peter Machunka even claims that he will come to an agreement with players from abroad instead of domestic ones.
“These guys play with us almost for free. They have shelter and food, but they don’t mind. I can say openly that I would rather deal with foreign players than with domestic players, who charge excessive money for the V. League, which is a bit strange.
That’s also why we prefer to go the way of foreigners, of whom we have three or four in the team and if one jumps out, the whole club can benefit later.” explains.
Moreover, as he also pointed out, it would be a pleasure to work with Japanese football players, “Because they are absolutely non-conflicting and will fulfill anything we ask of them without saying a word. The guys are only with us because they want to go higher and sell themselves somewhere. They see that Jušima has succeeded and their compatriot Takuto Ošima has already reached the Polish Ekstraklasa through Michalovce.”
ŠK Tvrdošín together with the players of FK Železiarne Podbrezová
Source: Natalia Medvedcká
Football vacation and dream of III. league
Although Tvrdošín is a district town with almost 10,000 inhabitants, according to Petr Machunk, working only in the V. League is not enough for ŠK. At the same time, the club is not only trying to improve its area step by step, but also in the sporting field, which is confirmed by some youth selections of Tvrdošín, who play in the III. the highest competition.
As always, more ambitious goals always require funding. ŠK Tvrdošín tries to “glue” it from all sides.
“The city will give something, the sponsors will give something, and we will take some of the entrance fee. The buffet in the stadium will also bring us some money. We can cover it with all this money. But we have to come up with something, because today nobody gives you anything for free.” points out Peter Machunka, who also believes Tuesday’s “football holiday” could also help the club financially, as Podbrezová arrived in Orava in the 2nd round of the Slovnaft Cup. “It could help us for a season or two,” He smiled.
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However, the big plan is to join III. league. “The goal is to move up in every category. It is our ambition, but our A-team has to be clearly higher, because we are a district and we have to play at least III. The highest competition. That is my biggest goal. It will not be easy at all, but I want to achieve it”, added Peter Machunka for ŠPORT.sk.
Tvrdošín is, after five rounds played in the V. League of the Central Slovak Football Association, currently in seventh place with a win of seven points. He loses five points to the leaders Gbeľany.