Yoshi’s Footy Training Diary: Learning Australia’s Game in Japan

It was the second time for me to be at Osaka Dingoes training on Sunday.


We are an Osaka based footy club, but have a training session once a month in Kobe, 30-kilometers west of Osaka.


I had a 70-minute train trip from Kyoto to Kobe, but my enthusiasm is most important and rather I enjoyed the ride. Like last week, I was reading a book on board.


Turing up there around 25 minutes prior to starting time, I started kicking footy on my own. It was okay.


Then others arrived the venue and we started a kicking and marking session, as preparation before our mentor came. Matt, the coach arrived with his son and we started training with running with the footy. I bounced the ball, but it was hard as I’m still not used to it.


The next session was hand balling. Cones were put with two straight sets at both ends, and one triangle set. At the end sections, two players hand balled at the same time making high and low movements and catches. In the triangle section, a player at the top hand balled towards left front with left hand and the opponent hand balled at the same time. Then the player at the top handballed towards the right front with right hand and the opponent hand balled at the same time.


Matt asked one of the more experienced Japanese players if the session was hard or not, but I didn’t find the hand balling too hard.


I found it harder in the following session of running and bouncing. Remembering what Matt taught us last time, I just tried to follow his instruction, but bouncing often caused fumbling of the ball. I was not happy with my performance and was hard on myself. But Matt and the other Aussie blokes there told me not to be hard on myself. It doesn’t help and you learn from mistakes. Later I had other opportunities to bounce and found out I should not bounce so hard. The force of the bounce is important, I reckon.


Then a kicking and marking session followed. We ran and kicked towards a partner. And then he did the same to his new partner. Go and come between two straight cones. Running and kicking at the same time is another action I found hard. But the experienced Australian guys were complimenting and encouraging me well. I am happy to play with these nice blokes.


Afterwards Matt instructed us where to take a mark and handball. Basically, we need to stretch arms to take a mark and handball to avoid dropping the footy when it’s contested.


Before this important mention, I had thought that marking close to my body such as chest and face to avoid dropping off the ball was good. And the thought came from my experience in playing other sports such as tennis and baseball, but footy is different. How unique Australian Rules Football is!


Forming triangle bases and running in the middle and kicking towards a partner was the following session. The session is done in both clockwise and anti-clockwise circuits.


The ball was often fumbled but it was a good practice in how we got the footy as soon as possible and for tackling.


Kicking towards the cone made goal posts was the last session. Other cones were places 35 metres away in various angles. At first I attempted to kick 35 metres away, but the footy didn’t reach the posts. As an inexperienced player, I was instructed to start with closer and try a longer kick. I hit the ball in a wrong position and went very low sometimes, but my kicking was okay. Even Matt and other Aussie players gave me positive feedback that I have improved on my kicking.


During the training, the ball hit my glasses twice. It was okay. I will buy eye drops for my contact lenses and will be wearing them at further trainings and matches.


As a new player to this great game, I need to practise a lot to improve my skills and to be patient. I believe my passion of footy will help blossom my on-field performances. But hard work is also required. I will have my own sessions when I have time and turn up to training earlier to do more practice.


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. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Yoshi,

    a lot of the great players practiced themselves against brick walls and rubbish bins and fences, anything to learn the feel of the ball and to learn how it bounces, turns, etc. It’s like writing – the more you practice the better you get. Sounds like hard work but fun. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Hi Yvette,

    Thanks for your comment and great advice. As I have mentioned in the AFLW match report of Bulldogs versus Fremantle, I have got footy so that I can sense the ball and practise. My work will finish at 3pm tomorrow so I am going to a baseball ground near my apartment after work to practise bouncing and kicking. Hope the ground is open for public and the weather is fine tomorrow.

    Have a lovely week.


  3. Neil Anderson says

    I really admire your courage and determination to get involved in the sport itself rather than just being a spectator. You are giving it a red-hot Aussie go starting in your forties. Most of us older footy -fanatics were brought up handling and kicking a footy from a very young age. Some who will remain nameless even used to take our Sherrins to bed!
    I didn’t play in a team from age about sixteen but every weekend we would be down the local park having a kick to kick.
    So be proud of your efforts so far. If you can borrow a footy so you can practise in your own time, particularly bouncing and kicking, it might help. Good luck.

  4. Great work Yoshi chan! I look forward to following your journey with the Osaka Dingoes here and on the WFN site, perhaps we can play kick to kick next time we meet in Australia or Japan!

  5. Malby Dangles says

    Good on you, Yoshi! Keep practising and if you can please keep writing about it too :)

  6. Good luck with your training and practicing, Yoshi! Most of all, enjoy yourself…..

  7. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Keep at it Yoshi. The Almanac is right behind you cobber.

  8. Good morning guys,

    Thanks for your comments and encouragements and supporting my playing footy!

    Neil – I turn 45 on Friday and it’s a good new challenge. Without Matt contacting me, I would not involve in playing footy. I have got Sherrins to touch and practise. I am doing after work today hopefully.

    Jarrod – Yeah it’s a good idea doing kick to kick. We will keep informed travel plans each other, eh?

    Mal – Cheers! I will update my footy journey here. My footy stories can be the part of weekly match reports (including AFLW ones). Please do not miss out.

    Jan – Your comment is a good reminder that enjoyment is most important. Thanks!

    Swish – I will and appreciate your great support!

    Following our social media platforms is much appreciated.



  9. Yoshi,
    I truly think that your story of finding and getting physically involved in footy is one of the best Almanac stories of the past 6 months.
    My advice: whenever you are at home (watching tv, reading etc etc) keep your football close by and keep handling it. The more familiar that you are with the feel of the footy, the better you will get.
    And yes, it’s true: be patient, it is a difficult game! There are many stories of players who were recruited from overseas by AFL clubs who returned home because they could not master the game.
    Best of luck, mate.

  10. Inspirational stuff Yoshi! I love this. We have players in their 60’s at our club. I see a long career ahead for you sir. If you reach 200 games Yoshi, I’ll fly over and watch.

  11. G’day and thanks for your comments Smokie and Igor!

    Smokie – Your advice is so awesome and practical. Thanks a lot. US born and ex basketball player James Holmes had been recruited by St Kilda, but he didn’t blossom and at the end of last year he was delisted. It’s sad to see such foreign born guys having to leave AFL.

    Igor – It’s nice to hear players in 60s are on field at your club. I will gain experiences with Dingoes and try to get a milestone.



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