Contributed by: Cam Homes Sunday, May 12 2013 @ 09:10 am ACST
Season 2012 Japan Top League saw the entry of the R246 Lions into the League achieving a measure of success in winning several of their matches and (for a brand new team) very competitive in others.
So too, season 2013 sees another new club, the Tokyo Bay Suns enter the league. The new club is the brainchild of two former Narita Hawks and current Samurais players, Yosuke Kuno and Junji Tanaka, between them about 15-16 years experience playing Australian football.
Club media spokesman and only Aussie on the playing list, Brett Snowdon, explained “the club is run as an ‘open club’, the idea that even though our game day squad is set, any members from other clubs are welcome to train with us. Players from university teams with less experience can learn from our experienced players so helping to improve the level of all teams in the league.” The club has already run a special training session where members from the Suns, Magpies, Hawks and Powers attended, around 40 players in all.
The R246 Lions showed that Japanese teams can be far more competitive against the expat Aussie heavy teams than a few years ago. University based teams have tended to have a high turnover of players, with first year students never having played the game and the experienced players leaving on graduation from Uni.
Yosuke and Junji have gathered together a quite experienced bunch of players, including, Munehiko Imai, formerly of Eastern Hawks, Masaya Nakamura, from Komazawa Magpies, Kunpei Komura from Senshu Powers and Ryosuke Aoyama from the Osaka Dingoes as the core of the club. All including Brett Snowdon have in excess of 6 to 8 years experience. Even all the younger players, Hiroki Ichinose, Shotaro Tada, Takashi Kamata, Takumi Uji, Hayata Ono, Katsuyoshi Shimizu and Takuma Hirai have a couple of years experience under their belts. Munehiko Imai is the veteran at 34 years old whilst the ‘new kids’ are Hiroki, Shotaro, Takashi and Katsuyoshi all at 22 years old.
Brett Snowdon believes "all of our players bar myself should be under consideration for national duties with the Samurais not too far down the track.” New team captain Masaya Nakamura “will be the breakout player for this year” opinions Brett, “I liken him to a taller Michito Sasaki*.”
The club has managed to secure at least one sponsor so far – Hot Chiro – a chiropractic practice based in Tamagawa, Tokyo and Spocli.
The new club has put together a support staff/management team including Asumi Endo, Shiori Sanada, Chieko Imai, Eriko Shiba and Kazuhiro Suzuki. The Tokyo Bay Suns have not named a coach this year but are using a somewhat of a round table approach to organiizing gameplans as a team.
Like so many clubs in international footy the Tokyo Bays Suns do not have a “home ground” but have managed to find a flat patch of grass about 80 x 30 metres on the bank of the Tamagawa River to use as their training ground.
Although they haven’t had any scratch matches and “we go into Round 1 this week a bit green, we are confident of giving the established clubs a run for their money thru the season”.
Thanks to Brett Snowdon for this story.
*Michito Sasaki: Two time International Cup Samurai, also did a preseason at Essendon and played in a preseason match against Sydney Swans.