Syria and Japan football teams train in Muscat for World Cup

Japan Complete Football training Program

Japanese Football Stadiums / September 26, 2015

knowhow_football01.jpgTakashi Matsunaga, Associate Director, International Relations Department, Japan Football Association

The Japan Foundation is partnering with the Japan Football Association (JFA) to promote programs for the purpose of exchange among a broad range of people through football, as well as exchange among and cultivation of various people who support football culture. Takashi Matsunaga chronicles Japanese football observation and training undertaken by Chinese football coaches and league personnel during four months from September through December 2014, and offers his outlook for football exchange in Asia.

The women's football observation group: Coaches from the Chinese Football Association observing a Japan women's football development and strengthening program

Toward Popularization and Development of Football in Asia

In order to raise the level of football in Asia and deepen partnerships with Asian countries, the Japan Football Association (JFA) implements Japanese football observation and training programs for officials and coaches in member associations of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and receives national teams and club teams for training camps.

knowhow_football02.jpgIn 2014, in response to a request from the Chinese Football Association (CFA), JFA carried out observation and training programs in all areas of Japanese football for 13 Chinese coaches and league officials during four months from September through the end of December.

This program was realized through the grant program of the Japan Foundation. Compared to the programs for receiving people for observation and training that JFA has run to date, it was an extraordinarily long program.

First, in order to have everyone understand Japanese football more deeply, the JFA Technical Department took the lead in putting together an observation schedule broken into five groups according to field of responsibility. Time was also allotted for exchanging views with people involved at each observation site, and things were arranged to allow for full absorption of Japanese football expertise, which is highly regarded in Asia. I believe that it became a meaningful training experience.

knowhow_football03.jpgIn June 2015, JFA representatives were invited to a briefing session held in Chengdu, China. The observation team members who had visited Japan presented the information and expertise they gained in Japan to football coaches and instructors in each Chinese province and ordinance-designated city, and cited the challenges for Chinese football in the future, including the need to broaden the base, and to increase both the number and quality of instructors.

Partnering with the Chinese Football Association

It has been over 10 years since JFA started its Social Action Programmes in Asia, but it had already built a robust relationship with CFA before then.

In 2010, CFA president and deputy director of the State General Administration of Sport of China Cai Zhenhua and CFA first vice president Zhang Jian made an observation visit to Japan. In 2012, 30 physical education teachers were received for a one-week observation program from designated Chinese soccer schools at the elementary and junior high school level. In addition, JFA vice president Kohzo Tashima and others gave lectures at a seminar hosted by the CFA in Wuxi.

knowhow_football04.jpgThanks to these efforts, in May 2014, during a visit to Japan, CFA president Cai asked JFA president Kuniya Daini in person for his cooperation in accepting China's top domestic coaches for observation and training in Japan.

Given that in this program each of the five groups would stay in Japan for one month, and the overall duration would extend to several months, we sought advice from the Japan Foundation. I believe this program was made possible because the Japan Foundation understood the purpose and content of the training and kindly offered us assistance.

Left: Youth development observation group: Takafumi Yamaguchi, Chairman of the JFA Technical Committee (Development section) giving a presentation on youth development in Japan
Right: Coaching training observation group: A member of the technical department of the CFA exchanging views with a JFA coaching training instructor regarding coaching training systems

Left: Professional football observation group: Chinese professional football club representatives observing a practice by a J. League team Urawa Red Diamonds
Right: Grassroots observation group: Coaches from the CFA observing a football clinic hosted by the Tokyo Football Association

Comments from Participants in Observation and Training

At first, participants in the five groups-women's football, youth development, coaching training, professional football, and grassroots-were all to arrive in Japan at around the same time. However, this turned out to not be the best plan when it was noticed that the observation schedules prepared for each group did not work out with the timing of the schedules for the related programs. Therefore, each group ended up coming to Japan at the optimal time. As a result, each group enjoyed a fruitful training visit, and they and their Japanese counterparts were able to substantially deepen friendly relations.