【Interview with KANAYAMA Yuki】”I want to play as many games as possible with this team” - JFA 28th Japan Futsal Championship
09 March 2023
The JFA 28th Japan Futsal Championship starts on Saturday 11 March.
A total of 32 teams - 18 from the F. League and 14 from the nine regional football associations - will take part in the tournament, competing in an all-knockout format for the title of best futsal team in Japan.
Toruela Kashiwa (now Shinagawa City) became the first team from the F. League Division 2 to win the title in the 26th edition, while Tachikawa Fuchu Athletic FC (now Tachikawa Athletic FC) won their first title in the 27th edition. Furthermore, in the previous tournament, teams from the regional leagues defeated teams from the F. League in the first round, showing that every team has a chance to win in this single-elimination tournament.
The final will take place on Sunday 19 March at Komazawa Olympic Park. Which team will be crowned as the best futsal team in Japan this year?
Here we interviewed KANAYAMA Yuki (Pescadola Machida), who will end his playing career at the end of this season, about his thoughts on retirement and his aspirations for this year's competition.
○This interview was conducted on 25 January
――You broke Mr. Roberto CARLOS's record for the oldest player to play in the F. League by appearing on the last match of the season. Were you aware of this record when you announced your retirement at the end of this season?
KANAYAMA My understanding at the time I announced my retirement was that I would not be able to break the record since I was told in another interview last year that I would not be able to do so during the 2022–2023 season. However, I was told that I could surpass the record for the oldest player after I announced my retirement, so I was genuinely surprised. My retirement had nothing to do with the record, as I announced my retirement because I couldn't imagine myself doing it for another year.
――What do you mean by saying “I couldn't imagine myself doing it for another year”?
KANAYAMA The biggest reason is injuries. This season, I suffered two major injuries. The first injury came two days before the start of the season, and it took three months to recover from. This took me out of the first half of the season and although I was able to recover in time for the second half of the season, I got injured again after playing just two matches. Both injuries came at a time when I was in good shape, especially before the start of the season, I was told by coach KAI Shuji that I was in the best shape I had been in for several years. I felt good when I was playing, but I started to worry about injuries, thinking that my body might not be able to keep up.
――Since the start of your career, you have not changed your style of play, which has been based on your speed. Do you think that has affected you in any way?
KANAYAMA If I could have controlled it better, like how Shu-san (current coach of Machida) did towards the end of his career and Banana (Vinicius Crepaldi) does now, I might have been able to play a little longer, but I'm not skilled as they are.
――You say a little longer, but you are the oldest ever to play in the league.
KANAYAMA You are right. I am still not aware that I am the oldest player. (while laughing)
――Your last competition as a player will be the Japan Futsal Championship.
KANAYAMA When I was still in high school, I participated in the tournament's inaugural edition, which took place in Shimane Prefecture. When I was younger, participating in this competition was the only way to play against teams from other prefectures and regions. Now there is a national league, but back then, this was the one and only tournament to decide the number one team in Japan. Knowing those times, I am sure that I have a different passion for the Japan Futsal Championship than the young players of today. For me, the Japan Futsal Championship is the tournament that made me discover, watch, and play futsal, so I want to play with that in mind.
――Pescadola Machida also won the 21st edition of the competition. What do you feel is necessary to win this competition?
KANAYAMA It’s the sense of unity that builds up through the competition. I think it all comes down to this. Rather than just strong teams, teams that can generate that kind of unity, in my opinion, tend to be successful in this competition. It is by no means a competition where only the top teams in the F. League or winners of the play-offs have a chance to win.
――What do you want to accomplish in this competition?
KANAYAMA Machida has a lot of young players who have not played in the Japan Futsal Championship, so I think it is important for them to play as many matches as possible and to experience this kind of competition where they are just one match away from elimination. That tension is something you can only experience at the Championship. I want to play as many matches as possible with this team in order to pass on my experience, so I would like to reach the final, and of course win the title at the end.
JFA 28th Japan Futsal Championship
Tournament dates: Sat. 11 - Sun. 19 March 2023
Tournament venue: Ecopa Arena (Shizuoka), Kishiwada City Gymnasium (Osaka), Kobe Central Gymnasium (Hyogo), Komazawa Olympic Park (Tokyo)
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