World Footy: Yoshi steps out for the Hong Kong Dragons in Shanghai

Shanghai footy was not only the mighty Saints taking Power on Sunday but also AFL Asia having a tournament named Shanghai Cup on Saturday.


Flying out of Osaka in the early morning on Friday, I touched down Shanghai after 10.30am. Struggling with finding a proper bank at the airport and then drawing cash at ATM because of language, my check in at a hotel was later than I had expected.


Wifi issues affected communication with Matt so he left the hotel and I started walking from a nearby Metro station at the same time.


Language barrier occurred at check in and having messaged Matt informing him that I was at the hotel, I saw my good friend and Essendon’s 1993 premiership player Rick Olarenshaw checking in. Matt joined us and we all reunited (Rick came to Japan last year for our IMPACT Invitational Cup).


Rick, his friend Jess and I went to lunch together while Matt headed off to Wellington College to organise the tournament.


Then I met other footy players from Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. They went off to Little Creature Bar for North Melbourne versus Richmond game. I went to the Camel Sports Bar for the Talking Footy night where St Kilda champion Nick Riewoldt would be panel.


Many patrons had already been at the pub watching the same footy match and Janet, a fellow St Kilda supporter who was born in Shanghai and knows me through Facebook talked to me.


Other St Kilda supporters joined us and I established new friendships at the footy pub. And I have eventually met Wendy in person after having been friends on Facebook for years.


I had some beers but didn’t drink much due to my footy following day.


Saint Nick appeared at the second session of the event and was welcomed warmly by audience.


He showed positively on Saints’ performances this year and tipped Saints for the Sunday clash. Talking about McCartin’s recent emotional interview, he was worried of the young forward.


After his appearance on the stage, Wendy introduced me to Rooey. He is a really friendly bloke and we took a photo together. I told him that I would be playing footy next day.


It was a fantastic night meeting fellow Sainters and Nick.


After a four-hour sleep, I got up at 5.30 am having a shower and a breakfast before heading to Wellington College for the Shanghai Cup on a chartered coach.


Others were AFL Asia Lions players and the coach (Rick). After our arrival, I ran to the Dragons’ bench to introduce each other.


Dragons were friendly and warm welcoming me into the club. Women’s competition had been the part of the tournament, but dropped off due to small number of players involving in.


Four Dragon women played in the masters competition where I was in, as well as did Bec from Japan Mirais/R246 Lions. It was great to play footy with women.


Chris was in a charge coaching both in the masters and open competition. He urged us players to keep footy and not to hurry. Leading was the priority for us.


I was placed in the forward line as I am at the Osaka Dingoes.


We, the Dragons master were first to take an action at the tournament. We played against AFL Asia Lions.


We took controls as having been instructed by Chris. Pushing hard towards the goal square and we scored goals. And our defence line played hard to turn over.


The Dragons master started well winning the first game by four points.


Robin tournament placed us and the Lions playing again an hour after the final siren. For the second time, we struggled with controlling footy. Chris instructed us not to hurry in acting.


But we only managed to kick a goal while the opponents scored five goals.


I tried hard, but chasing opponent players was the best performances at these games.


Dragons master watching open match


Our third game was taking against the locals China Reds.


Once again we dominated the game with good ball uses and reliable kicking skills.


I started firing up the engine and had some possessions. Even I kicked footy on the boundary line but didn’t kick any goal.


Yoshi kicking on the boundary line


At the last half, I was placed in the midfield for another good experience playing footy.


We kicked seven goals during the match and won by 18 points. Had a good chance to be top in the competition.


Our last game against Reds had a first bounce at 3.30 pm.


The opponents put a lot of pressures on us with intercept marks and turning over. We couldn’t do our footy of controlling the ball much.


I had some possessions including in the forward pocket, but was unable to score a goal. At the last half, I was instructed to follow the Reds forwards in our back line. I had another experience.


Sadly we lost the last game by three goals.


It was a great experience for me and the first time to play footy outside Japan. I stepped into the Asian footy.


Yoshi on footy field


My appreciation goes to the Hong Kong Dragons having me as a player. Chris and fellow players encouraged me well and welcomed me warmly.


HK Dragons
All Hong Kong Dragons Team Photo


Like on St Kilda’s Facebook a month ago, footy brings new friendships. I have connections on Facebook and other social media platforms with new friends who played footy together. Special shouts go to Evan Spargo for making fun during the tour and Winner Santos for good socialising.


Discussing with Matt on Sunday morning, I will be playing footy at AFL Asia Championship on Saturday 31 August in Thailand. I look forward to another footy trip.




Game 1: AFL Asia Lions 5.4 (34) HK Dragons 6.2 (38)
Game 2: AFL Asia Lions 5.7 (37) d HK Dragons 1.3 (9)
Game 3: AFL Asia Lions 8.10 (58) d China Reds 2.3 (15)
Game 4: China Reds 5.3 (31) HK Dragons 7.7 (49)
Game 5: AFL Asia Lions 5.4 (34) d China Reds 2.3 (15)
Game 6: China Reds 6.4 (40) d HK Dragons 3.4 (22)


Game 1: Beijing Bombers 7.6 (48) d Hong Kong Dragons 3.3 (21)
Game 2: Guangzhou Scorpions 1.4 (10) Singapore Wombats 5.4 (34)
Game 3: Beijing Bombers 4.5 (29) Shanghai Tigers 7.9 (51)
Game 4: Guangzhou Scorpions 8.5 (53) d Hong Kong Dragons 4.1 (25)
Game 5: Beijing Bombers 9.4(58) d Singapore Wombats 6.6 (42)
Game 6: Guangzhou Scorpions 1.4 (10) Shanghai Tigers 11.5 (71)
Game 7: Hong Kong Dragons 4.3 (27) Singapore Wombats 10.4 (64)
Game 8: Beijing Bombers 9.7 (61) d Guangzhou Scorpions 5.5 (35)
Game 9: Hong Kong Dragons 4.2 (26) Shanghai Tigers 9.2 (56)
Game 10: Singapore Wombats 3.1 (19) Shanghai Tigers 8.4 (52)
Grand Final: Shanghai Tigers 8.9 (57) d Beijing Bombers 3.1 (19)



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About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Mark Duffett says

    There aren’t many of us who can say they’ve been involved in footy at international level. Sounds close to perfection as a festival of footy other than the Saints getting done. Well played, Yoshi.

  2. Great stuff Yoshi! It was great playing with you at the Shanghai Cup!

  3. Phil Hill says

    Not drinking too much beer because you were playing footy the next day was a thought that never entered my mind. Thanks for the enjoyable read

  4. G’day gentlemen,

    Thanks for all your comments!

    Mark – It was really good to play outside Japan and meet other players from Asia. Playing footy at the international level is a good experience and I can’t wait the next opportunity in Thailand!

    Dazza – Playing with you guys was so great and creates my good memory and experiences. All the best mate!

    Phil – I can’t waste the good opportunity to play internationally and with players from other club. But at the same time, I got a great opportunity to see Saint Nick. That’s why I chose to drink wisely.



  5. Always great to read your columns Yoshi. Sport is a wonderful thing for making new friends. Whilst I have always had footballing friends, when starting to write about baseball, I met and made friends with several legends of that game. One of my highlights was to be invited to a special luncheon for the old Goodwood Indians players.

    Keep supported your Sainters Yoshi, I wish you well.

  6. Hi Fisho,

    Thanks for your interesting comment and warm wishes.

    It’s so good to have friends who play the same sport and have passions of and interests in the sport, isn’t it? Easy to get on and share the interests. I am really happy having played at Shanghai Cup for a lots of reasons.

    Do you still keep in touch with your baseball friends?



  7. Yes Yoshi I am in regular contact with my baseball friends. Unfortunately in the last 12 years, when i first began baseball writing, many of them have since passed away.

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