Manabu is ready for the challenge of a home Olympic Games

June 16, 2020

Manabu Yamashita is captain of the Japan men’s national team and he is more than ready to lead his team out next year in front of a home crowd at the Tokyo Olympic Games. This will be Japan’s sixth appearance at an Olympic Games – they last competed in 1968 – and it is easily the largest international competition that the current team has experienced but there are many signs that Japan are ready to meet the test.

A surprise first place finish at the 2018 Asian Games, saw Japan beat Malaysia in the final. The Samurai also finished ahead of other higher ranked nations, India, Pakistan and Korea. A member of the senior national team since 2011, and with 186 international caps to his name, 31-year-old Yamashita is Japan’s most experienced player but even the cool-headed midfielder will be dancing if Japan performs well on the home stage.

What are your thoughts about playing for your country at a home Olympic Games?
Manabu Yamashita: “I am very excited and I cannot wait for the Olympic Games to take place in my country. I feel extremely lucky. I will be very proud to be representing my country and singing the national anthem on the pitch.”

What made you first pick up a hockey stick?
Manabu Yamashita: 
“At school I played football, but at one point my school team was short of players and I was asked to help out. That was the beginning of my hockey career.

Who would you say has been important in your career as an international hockey player?
Manabu Yamashita: 
“I think everyone. That includes all the coaches and players I have worked with. I would not have built my hockey career without every single one of them.”

How did your team stay connected during time away from the pitch due to Covid-19?
Manabu Yamashita: 
“We had weekly meetings where we discussed strategy. But we also had several online fun sessions where we did a lot of dancing and drawing. We had ad-hoc meetings and did some activities for kids.”

Profile*: Manabu Yamashita
Position: Midfield
Shirt number: 13
Age: 31
International appearances: 186
Place of birth: Japan

You can follow him on Instagram @yamashita0204

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