I have been working in Japan since the middle of January 2016.
Time is just flying past. Before we start our competition games on April 10th, here’s an update of what we have done so far.
“It is time to show Japan that this area has recovered from disaster and can be a breeding ground for ambitious sports projects.”
After the initial club launch, presenting the plans and time frame to the press, we built a completely new squad of players.
Our people already found seven talented players through their connections and scouting, but the rest of the team was selected from our “Iwaki FC Combine”.
In the USA the combine is one of the big sports events of the year: all talented players are put through several testing programs to determine the best players. The outcome of the combine is important in the clubs’ decisions which player to select for the draft.
Our Iwaki FC combine relied this year on an open application.
Any football player who thought he fit the profile was able to send his application. In one week we received more then 200 applications of which we initially selected 44. These players were invited to our Iwaki FC Combine day where they were put through their paces.
The players were tested on strength, pace, agility and of course on football skills.
Out of the Combine we selected 14 players to join our new club. Now we had a squad and started our preseason program.
Our players generally just graduated from high school or university and are looking for an opportunity to get into professional football. A few players already tried their luck in other countries like Singapore, Argentina , France and Slovenia and saw Iwaki FC as their chance to live their dream.
The players come from all over Japan and initially most of them stayed at the same hotel for more than a month. For preseason this was ideal. The players lived closely together, they got to know each other better and did many things together. Because of this the players settled in quickly.
Iwaki FC officially starts in the second amateur league of Fukushima which means the players have to “regular” jobs as well to earn an income. Almost all players have a job at the newly opened DIB (Dome Iwaki Base) distribution centre of Under Armour.
Fortunately, Iwaki city is famous for its onsen, natural hot springs, in which the players can recuperate after a hard days work.
Since most of them are new to the area, it is important for the players to get to know their new surroundings. The team has made a number of cultural trips and has attended the recent memorial services for the victims of the Fukushima disasters in recent history.
The program we use is straight forward. We train on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and play a game on Sunday. We start training at 8.30 in the morning. The players do their warm-up together for 30 minutes. In the warm-up there is attention for core-stability and flexibility as well as preparing the body for training. On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday we continue with a strength and conditioning program in which lower- and upper body strength are improved. Around 9.45hrs the players go to the field. First I conduct transition exercises in which quick footwork, agility and technical skill are the centre pieces.
The football part exists of passing and control and the tactical team organization. We play a lot of smaller position plays and games in which there is a clear goal of what aspect of our plan to improve.
My philosophy and Iwaki FCs view is always to play dominant and attacking football to entertain the spectators. I also like to play in this way because it challenges the players to work on their skills and insights. Every day in practice I use our plan to design the exercises to maximize the effectiveness of the session. To perfect this system takes time, especially with a complete new team, but I am happy with the progress so far.
Between 11.00 and 11.30 the training is finished. The players who work already have to report at their jobs at 13.00 and work until 20.00. The players who have not yet started jobs, mostly high school graduates, will go to the gym to put in another session to gain strength.
The players make long days and train hard to improve their football qualities. They train more and harder then I am used to in the Netherlands. It is good to notice that there are very few injuries and the players are getting more and more comfortable with the workload that they get.
DNS & recovery
Important to this fact is the attention to recovery that we put into our program. With the help of the experts from DNS the players have access to all the supplements that they need to help their body adjust to the new training program.
I also believe that the hot springs benefit this recovery and helps the players at least mentally to be ready for next days practice.
Start of the league on April 10th
With the team getting stronger I am looking forward to the start of the league on April 10. I hope that many people will come to the Green field Stadium to support us over the season. I believe that there are exciting times ahead for everybody who likes football in Iwaki and Fukushima province.
It is time to show Japan that this area has recovered from disaster and can be a breeding ground for ambitious sports projects.