《日本足球的明治維新》

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《日本足球的明治維新》
作者:應虹霞

「戰後重建日本足球,其難度不亞於在廢墟上重建國家。」

「一如福澤諭吉的思想之於日本明治維新的意義,理念變革和意識先行引發了日本足球職業化這場足球領域的劃時代變革。」

「內田篤人制勝德甲的秘訣,是德國人的鬥志外加日本球員的敏捷性、協調性。」

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這一篇刊出之時,2019亞洲盃足球賽已到了白熱化階段,而今屆冠軍亦將於2月1日在阿布扎比揭盅。說起至今已舉辦16屆的亞洲盃,曾經四度奪冠的日本可謂這項賽事的最成功球隊。今次為大家介紹的書,亦正是與日本足球發展有關。

《日本足球的明治維新》(下稱《維新》)於2012年出版,作者應虹霞是一名中國體育記者,而她諳熟日語,不時訪問日本教練及球員,對日本足球發展所知甚詳,同時被譽為「日本足球通」,所以她寫的《維新》可說是一部日本足球簡史,由1936年柏林奧運,說到2010年南非世界盃,將日本足球發展呈現讀者眼前。

作者以「明治維新」為書名,明顯意在讚揚日本足球廿年改革成功。我們現在看到J聯賽之盛,看到日本國家隊成為世界盃常客,絕難想像在數十年前它曾經是那麼的業餘。再反觀幾乎與日本同步開始職業化的中國足球,相比之下,兩者發展大相逕庭,情況令人感慨。

原來1936年奧運足球賽中,日本爆大冷擊敗瑞典一役,會影響到十多年後首個奪得諾貝爾的日本科學家?原來J聯賽球隊命名各有深意?原來巴西名宿薛高當年赴日也只是踢乙組球隊?《維新》述說的無數故事,使讀者領略到日本足球有今天的成就絕非倖致,而且足以成為中國足球的殷鑑。它雖然是七年前的作品,但今天看來仍未過時。

【Exercise and Read】Uncle Shrimp Running
Meiji Restoration of Japanese Football
Author: Ying Hong-xia

‘Restoring Japanese football after the war was as difficult as rebuilding the country on its ruins.’

‘Similar to the impact of Fukuzawa Yukichi’s thoughts on Japan’s Meiji Restoration, conceptual reform and ideology first triggered the epoch-making revolution in the professionalization of Japanese football.’

‘The secret of Atsuto Uchida’s success in the Bundesliga is the mix of the German’s perseverance plus the agility of Japanese football players.’

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By the time of the release of this article, the 2019 AFC Asian Cup should have reached a critical stage and this year’s champion will be crowned in Abu Dhabi on 1 February. To date, the Asian Cup has been held 16 times, during which Japan has emerged the most successful team winning the championship four times. The book introduced in this issue also chronicles the overall development of Japanese football.

Meiji Restoration of Japanese Football (referred to as The Restoration) was published in 2012. Author Ying Hong-xia is a Chinese sports journalist, who is also regarded as a ‘Japanese football guru’ because of her mastery of the Japanese language, frequent interviews with Japanese coaches and players as well as her in-depth knowledge about football’s development in Japan. For this reason, her book The Restoration can indeed be considered a brief history of Japanese football, presenting to readers its development all the way from the 1936 Berlin Olympics to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

The use of ‘Meiji Restoration’ in the book title is an allegorical reference to Japan’s success in its 20-year football reform. With the flourishing J-League and Japanese national team being the Finalist in the World Cup regularly, it is hard to imagine how Japanese football grew from amateur level to professional a few decades ago. By contrast, the development of Chinese football – which started professionalization at a similar time as Japan – stands in stark opposition to the case of Japan and the situation is indeed disheartening.
Who would have ever thought that the 1936 Olympic football match where Japan pulled off an upset of Sweden would influence the Japanese scientist who won the country’s first Nobel Prize more than a decade later? Who knew that the names of J-League football teams have their own special meanings, and that the legendary Brazilian player Zico once joined Japanese commercial football team in second division only?

Through stories behind these facts as told in The Restoration, readers will realize that Japanese football’s achievements nowadays did not come about through sheer luck, and that the success Japan has achieved can serve as a good example for Chinese football. Although the book was written seven years ago, it still retains relevancy even today.

About the writer: Uncle Shrimp loves reading, writing and athletics, and hopes he can continue exploring the world through sports.

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