Yoshihiro Sakurai is back. This year the Japanese defender has signed with South West Queensland Thunder in Australian soccer’s second tier. He’ll be playing in the Playstation 4 NPL Qld competition for 2017, but we caught up with him in Sydney where he told us all about his journey from Kashiwa Reysol youth teams to selection as a Visa player for SWQ Thunder.
In making the final cut for the SWQ Thunder squad Sakurai played amongst 85 other triallists before beating off two other possible Visa players in the same position as him. The defender now trains three days a week with the NPL squad, including a yoga session on Mondays.
On the video Sakurai takes us through his football journey starting out in a small local team, up until his time spent at a boarding school in Niigata with unimaginable facilities. During those high school years at Kaishi Gakuen in Niigata, Sakurai played as a number 9, but the youngster who lists Brazilian Sergio Ramos as one of his heroes has made a fist of defending since moving to Australia.
Here are some of the details on daily life at Kaishi Gakuen where he says students were able to train 24/7.
Early morning: Tactics/individual skills
Evening:11 v 11
Saturday: Game day.
Sunday: Match analysis (video)
Surprisingly, Sakurai stated, “I think Australian football is better than Japanese . . . ” Watch the video to see why he believes that.
Sakurai also spoke about A-League expansion, the FFA Cup, and also told us about his hopes and expectations for South West Queensland Thunder this year.
See and hear more in our video on YouTube.