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The Yellows Academy continues to be a reference in Japan
The Yellows Academy continues to be a reference in Japan

Kashima Gakuen have travelled to Miralcamp for the 22nd consecutive year

Kashima Gakuen, the U19s team of the Kashima Academy in Japan, travelled to Vila-real this February for the 22nd year in a row, to soak up the Yellows Academy model. The club is from a small city called Kashima, in the province of Ibaraki, and has approximately the same population as Vila-real.

The young players are U19s and most of them are on scholarships from the Japanese club’s programme. The more than 30 promising players landed in Spain for an unforgettable experience. With this initiative, the Japanese players spent a week training and playing at the José Manuel Llaneza Training Ground to learn about the Villarreal CF youth football model.

This year, six friendly matches were organised between the Japanese team and Villarreal CF and CD Roda youth teams. In these matches, the Asian players demonstrated the great growth that this initiative has brought them over the last few years.

Masato Suzuki, head coach of Kashima Gakuen, emphasised the growth that the Japanese players have made with this initiative: “Fortunately, the team has grown. Also, as a coach myself, I believe that if you are in an island country like Japan and you don’t look outward, you can’t develop players who can one day play on the world stage, and you can’t grow as a team. That’s why I like to learn a lot from the great club that is Villarreal so I can update my knowledge every year.”

Suzuki has also acknowledged on more than one occasion that he has followed Villarreal from Japan and in these more than 20 years of agreement he has seen a clear evolution of the club. “Having visited Villarreal for more than 20 years, I am very aware of the extent to which the club has grown. The quality of the players is evident, but I also feel that the facilities have grown a lot at the same time. We are inspired to learn from that and work hard in Japan,” said Masato Suzuki.

Finally, the Japanese head coach thanked the club for this initiative that allows the academy players to learn from Villarreal CF’s grassroots football methodology: “I would like to thank Fernando (Roig Negueroles), who was the person who invited us more than 20 years ago to Villarreal as the first foreign international academy. I would also like to thank all those who make it possible for us to play friendly matches with their youth team every year. Thank you very much for everything.”

With this agreement, thanks in part to the collaboration of Yuriko Saeki, a Japanese woman who works in the Yellow Submarine’s Department of Football Administration and Competitions, and Fernando Roig Negueroles, both Villarreal CF and the Japanese club benefit, as Kashima Gakuen gain an opportunity to grow their players and establish themselves as an important club in Japan, and the Yellow Submarine expand their brand on the Asian continent.