THE DEMONS PARTNERSHIP WITH JAPAN A CONTINUED SUCCESS

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Japan Report 2013 A great year on the Japan front this year with a Scholarship player, Japan trip 2013 and a visit from the Samurai team……. One of Box Hill North Football Clubs past Presidents Simon Evans lived in Japan for several years. There he became involved with an expatriate team the Tokyo Goannas. These guys where heavily involved in getting AFL in Japan off the ground. Creating interest through the University’s and growing the JAFL to what it is today. Simon returned to Australia soon becoming our president. Keeping his connection alive started our relationship with the JAFL.  Since then BNHFC has travelled to Japan 8 times from 2002. BHNFC has also been involved in the JAFL scholarship program housing many players over the years.Japan Trip (JAFL Cup)
I’m so happy to report our returned in 2013. Thirteen players, partners and officials jumped on board this year’s, two week trip from2nd of October to 15th October. The Japan AFL Cup tournament was held on the 5th of October. Teams competing were the Senshu Power (Senshu University), Kawaza Magpies (Kawaza University), Tokyo Hawks, Tokyo Bay Suns, Tokyo Lions, Tokyo Goanna’s (expat team) and Box Hill North. The competition was held at Seimei No Mori resort in Chiba (the 1964 Olympic Villiage). In typical Japanese style, The Japan Cup is an extremely well organised and co-ordinated event which relies purely on the basis of volunteers. It is the biggest event in the Japanese AFL calendar and participants are afforded all luxuries including resort accommodations, meals, opening ceremony, cheer leaders, JAFL merchandising and is closed through a formal after party and presentation.The tournament day consisted of a round robin competition on a rugby ground. Teams are made up of 9 players plus as many on the bench as you like. Group games consisted of two 10 minute halves with finals being two 15 minute halves. The footy is fierce but friendly and is a big day for players, playing up to 5 shortened games. This years tournament was won by the Lions/Hawks mixed team from Tokyo who defeated the Tokyo Bay Suns 7.4.46 to 5.2.32. In an indication of the increasing quality of Japanese football this years premiers consisted of a team made of all Japanese players. In previous years the competition has mainly been shared between the Box Hill North Football Club and teams consisting of expatriate players. This years JAFL dream team included Mitsugu Kazawa (magpies) , Ken Sato (magpies), Mitchito Sakaki (former Essendon international rookie in 2005) , Masaya Nakumara (Tokyo Bay Suns), Hayata Ono (Tokyo Bay Suns) Brett Snowden (Tokyo Bay/ Japanese national team coach), Ben Pearce (Box Hill North), Cameron Liston (Box Hill North) and Justin McKenzie (Box Hill North). This year our team finished in 3rd place losing to the Tokyo Bay Suns in a thrilling preliminary final after leading at the half time interval (good kicking is good football).Our club has seen a significant improvement occur in Japanese football over the last decade. This has been due to the increased quality of coaching staff, increased exposure to Australian expat players, players having more of an opportunity to play football in Australia through the JAFL’s scholarship program with our club and the opportunity to represent their country in the AFL international Cup.Outside the tournament, past BHNFC Japanese scholarship players showed the BHNFC around the “nigh time” places to eat and drink. Karaoke, Disney Land, Disney Sea, Hiroshima and Kyoto are just to name a few of the exciting places experienced.
SCHOOL CLINIC:As in previous years, this year the BHNFC conducted an AFL school clinic, this year at the Hoden Juniour High School in the outskirts of Osaka. This was scheduled through our ongoing relationship with expatriate teachers currently residing in Japan. The clinic was the most rewarding experience for the players on the trip by far. It gave us an exciting opportunity to expose a whole new group of school children to our game and was remarkably well received by the children who appeared to really enjoy the sport (as evidenced by the attached photos). There was definitely an innate talent in some of the kids. The sport of AFL was virtually unknown to the children before our clinic, with the exception of the Australian teacher (Louis Patterson) who shows the children the odd Youtube video. The kids now have access to footballs to play with and which will hopefully start to grow into a passion for the game.2013 Scholarship Player. Each year the Japan AFL sends a scholarship player to BHNFC. This player is usually a first or second year player with great potential to play for the Samurai (Japanese international team). Spending a month with us during their university holidays, this player gains valuable experience training and playing with us. This year we had Mizugu Kazawa join us during the gruelling preseason month of February. His passion and excitement for footy was clear to see. This super fit 20 year old loves the game as much as any Australian and really enjoyed his stay. Thankfully during the year Mitugu was able to return with the Japanese Samurai development team and pull on the Box Hill North jumper for the first time against Chadstone where he provided intense forward pressure and kicked the match sealer. This would have been a great thrill for him. “Mitz” went on to win player of the tournament in the JAFL cup. He will be a valuable player for the Samurai in the years to come.Japanese Samurai Development Team.
The JAFL sends a team of players out every year to Melbourne for about a week to gain experience. We had them join us for a training session the Tuesday night after the Chadstone game. This team comprised of five Rookie (first year) players and the rest second and third year players. Their skills have improved dramatically through the years and they trained with us smoothly. After training and a few beers… the smiles, broken English and the gifts kept flowing. I think they were sad to go back to their hotel. A good night had by all. Next year they send out a huge squad for the 2014 international cup. BHN will be getting behind the team and supporting them through match practice. Many past scholarship players we be present and our support we be well received.The BHNFC’s relationship with football in Japan is one that the club values deeply. We are committed to growing the game in Japan and strengthening the foundations currently in place as well as consolidating our relationship with the JAFL. We will continue to support the scholarship players who come to our country to learn their favourite sport.We believe that our relationship with Japanese football is unique and on that any club would aspire to. It provides an amazing opportunity for our playing group to promote and play football in another country. As a small amateur D4 club we would welcome any new players with any amount of previous footballing experience and ability to come to our club to share in this experience. The club can be contacted at [email protected]  We also extremely grateful to our major sponsors (Proteus Leadership Centres, Spring Osteo Clinic, Beasley’s Tea House and Mustard Media) for their support in our clubs future. The Box Hill North Football Club are proud members of the VAFA and Good Sports Program.
Ben Pearce   Luke van den AkkerJapan Liason Officer  Vice President.