AFC Wimbledon academy coaches Mark Robinson and Michael Hamilton have this week arrived back from the footballing experience of a lifetime in Japan – and their visit created headlines in the Far East!
In an action-packed week after arriving in Kansai, Mark and Michael coached young footballers from Japan, watched a football tournament, and they even had a go at a traditional martial arts called Kendo!
There was also the bonus of watching the boys that they coached earn victory with the Kyoto Kyoei Gakuen academy winning 3-0.
Mark and Michael managed to put AFC Wimbledon’s name in the local news with the Roppongi daily reporting on it. As we reported recently, Japanese coach Shohei Naito founded an academy for his club Kyoto Kyoei Gakuen after being inspired by the AFC Wimbledon story and advice from our coaches. He was delighted to return the favour by inviting Mark and Michael over to the Far East.
Shohei said: "I am really glad that Mark and Mike decided to come to Japan. I wanted to give my Japanese players the opportunity to learn English football in a different way and culture. My players were very inspired. They talked more than usual and played better than usual. We work them very hard physically in our academy and our culture is very strong, but Mark and Mike’s coaching worked their brains. I have never seen our players communicate like this and make so many decisions freely. They enjoyed the responsibility. As coaches, we learnt so much on how to develop your players differently."
Academy Head of Football Mark Robinson said: "It is very difficult to do justice to the experience Mike and I have just had to be honest. When you witness first hand such a strong culture and warmth from people words are not really going to reflect how you felt. Every day something would happen that would surprise us and humble us further. If the players, school children and coaches we worked with have gained half of what I have from being and working together I would be very satisfied. I have come away from the experience educated, stimulated and full of ideas.”
Michael Hamilton, who is Academy Head of Coaching, added: “Naturally I was very excited about coming here and very much looking forward to the experience but if I’m totally honest I didn’t realise how much of an eye opener it would be. It’s been a very unique and humbling trip. It’s very difficult to put into words some of the experiences but for many reasons it’s given us massive inspiration and many ideas on how we, as both individuals and as an academy, can progress and further embed what we do. The clearest constant is how important culture and relationships are. These (like with coaching) need to be at the forefront of everything you do.”