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The Japan News by The Yomiuri Shimbun

Home > Campus Now > Messages to Their Second Century: Autumn Issue (Nov.)

Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Nov.)

Message to the second century

Cultivating next-generation professionals through the promotion of sports

Mr. Kunishige Kamamoto
Former player on the Japanese national men's soccer team

While studying at Waseda University, Kamamoto won the Emperor's Cup and was the leading scorer in the Kanto League for 4 consecutive years. He also contributed to Japan's bronze medal at the Mexico Olympics. Currently, he continues his activities to convey the fun of soccer to children. Kamamoto discussed his memories of life at university and his passion towards activities for spreading soccer.

Spending every day immersed in soccer on the strongest student team

――Why did you choose to enter Waseda University?

I was born in Kyoto and had always thought that I would go to a university in Kansai. However, I heard that 3 older students at my alma mater Kyoto Prefectural Yamashiro High School had entered Waseda. Also, I felt that entering a powerful soccer university in Kanto would increase my chances in the Tokyo Olympics which were coming up in 2 years. That's why I chose Waseda. At that time, I had decided that I would devote my life to soccer in some shape or form.

――Could you talk about your memories of student life?

The 4 years that I spent at Waseda were the golden age of the Waseda soccer team. We played dozens of games during those 4 years but almost never lost. At the time, the popular sentiment was that Waseda soccer was just a lower-class program winning on momentum alone. It was said that the short passing game played at Keio University was better soccer. However, our team had many outstanding athletes and we played quality soccer under the instruction of our coach Koichi Kudo.

The most memorable game that I played at university was during my 4th year at the Emperor's Cup All-Japan Soccer Championship Tournament. We were scheduled to play in the finals against Toyo Kogyo (currently Matsuda), which was considered to be the strongest team in the Japanese soccer league at that time. On the same day, Waseda was playing in the final game of the All-Japan Rugby Football Championship. The general consensus was that the rugby team would win, so the cheering squad went to the rugby game. However, in the end, our soccer team was the one that won. This was a crowning achievement to my soccer life at university.

Creating the desire to become No. 1

――You continue to operation soccer workshops for children. What kind of feeling do you put into these activities?

I hold more than 1,000 soccer workshops per year throughout Japan. By no means do I continue to focus on the same children, but I am overjoyed when a professional player tells me that they participated in one of my soccer camps when they were a child. In order to cultivate good players and create strong teams, it is first necessary to broaden the view of soccer. If children have the opportunity to enjoy soccer and continue playing, there is a greater chance that a strong player will emerge. When I was a child, soccer was as popular on a national level as it is now. However, I heard that many people watched soccer at the Tokyo Olympics because many seats were available and tickets were easy to obtain. These people then returned to their hometowns and soccer spread rapidly. The achievement of the Japanese national women's soccer team has contributed greatly to the spread of women's soccer. In the future, I want to continue to fulfill an important role in the spread of soccer.

――What do you want to convey to children through soccer?

When playing a game, everyone feels the desire to win and become No. 1. Players think about what they must do to win, working to learn ball-handling skills, increase their stamina and improve their strength. I want as many children as possible to experience the process of setting a goal and thinking about how to achieve it.

University sports deepen the bond between alumni and the university.

――What do you think about university sports?

University sports are amateur sports. Accordingly, I think that players should remember their primary responsibility as students even while seeking to improve their skill as athletes. Even if you don't become a professional athlete, it is enough to enjoying exercising with friends as part of a club team. Sports require endurance and strength, which are also qualities required for studying. In this respect, it is extremely important to strengthen the body through sports from a very young age.

In the case of private schools, sports are essential for increasing recognitions towards the school. Alumni truly enjoy when a team from their alma mater is successful. It is one way in which alumni can deepen the bond with their school after graduation.

――Waseda University possesses a School of Sport Sciences. What do you think about the concept of research and education for sports as an academic discipline?

Compared to Europe, sports in Japan are lagging behind. In the first place, the history of sports in Japan begins from the Meiji Period. Only quite recently has it become common for everyone to engage in sports. In Europe, sports clubs were established for citizens since long ago. People in Europe jog in parks, but Japanese people have to jog on public roads. We must develop an environment in Japan that is conducive to sports. I have great expectations for the School of Sport Sciences in terms of improving the sports industry through multifaceted research.

――It is said that students today tend to be introverted. Mr. Kamamoto, you participated in overseas tours from when you were a high school student. In your opinion, what is the meaning of traveling overseas?

Today, the internet and television make it possible to learn about lifestyle in foreign countries. Such information didn't exist when I was young. When I entered junior high school, I was having trouble choosing between playing soccer or baseball. "If you play baseball, you can only go as far as Koshien Stadium," said my teacher. "But if you play soccer and are selected to represent Japan, you can challenge the world!" I immediately chose soccer, which shows how strongly I wanted to go overseas. My dream came true and I was selected as a member of the Japanese junior team. The first foreign city I went to was Bangkok. Everything that I saw and heard there was completely new to me. My curiosity increased and helped me to work even harder. Indeed, overseas tours were such an important goal for me that I sometimes didn't know if I wanted to play soccer or if I wanted to travel abroad!

Some people may feel as if they can become familiar with foreign countries by watching television programs. However, the only way to truly learn about another country is to travel their and speak with people. Language skills should be acquired to increase the enjoyment of such exchanges.

――What are your expectations towards Waseda University?

I would like all of the athletic teams to work even harder. Also, I hope that Waseda will produce leaders who will create a new era not only in sports, but also in a variety of fields.

Kamamoto as a member of the Japanese national men's soccer team (1976)

Mr. Kunishige Kamamoto
Former player on the Japanese national men's soccer team

Formerly one of Japan's most renowned soccer players. Born in Tokyo in 1944. Graduated from the Waseda University School of Commerce in 1967. After graduation, entered employment at Yanmar Diesel Co., Ltd. Participated in the 1968 Mexico Olympics as a forward on the Japanese men's national soccer team. Contributed to the team's bronze medal and was also the leading scorer in the Olympics. After retiring as a player, held positions such as the first coach of Gamba Osaka and Vice-Chairperson of the Japan Football Association. Elected as a member of the House of Councilors in 1995. Currently, serves as advisor to the Japan Football Association while holding soccer workshops for children and working as an instructor to spread soccer.