Football Samurai Academy

The North Acton playing fields hosts a strong Japanese lineage. A remarkably British scene; young footballers do battle on the pitch. The red kits of the academy swarm forward and they clinch a winning goal. Jubilant parents embrace one another.


Misty morning, dewy grass, warm breath condensing in cold air; the playing fields are awash with matches as the academy turns out teams across all age groups. This club was created through necessity by Hideyuki Miyahara, Yasuhiro Oba, Tomoharu Takeyama, and their Chairman, Masao Asai. They now have over 160 young players in their midst, most of which are of Japanese descent. Such is their successful integration into the community that the club possesses a diverse mix of nationalities in the ranks.

Japanese immigration to Britain first began in the 19th century, when Japanese students were sent to study at University College London. Later, students would undertake study at Cambridge and Oxford. They were sent to these universities to close the widening gaps between Japan and the rapidly developing West. In the 20th century, business and employment became the driving factor for immigration to the UK. It has been noted that the Japanese community didn’t favour one particular area; they can be found in North Finchley, Croydon and Acton, the latter became home to the Samurai Academy. West London had the most distinguishable community, with ‘company men’ favouring the suburban enclaves and transport links. The isolation that can be felt by minority groups is on the radar of the club, as they strive to develop a ‘community hub’ that can be relied upon. 

The coaching is done largely by Japanese coaches, though there is the experienced Simon O’Neill who has been involved with both Arsenal and Chelsea. From school starters to a men’s team, the academy has rooted itself in Acton. The players learn respect and discipline, as well as cultural values through the language and camaraderie of the sport.

This academy is truly unique, with support from a famous Japanese footballer. Maya Yoshida has captained his country and had been a focal point of the Southampton FC team for many years, before a move to Sampdoria last year. He accepted an invite for an ambassadorial role at the club, providing an intermittent presence on the playing fields throughout the season. Few young players could say that an international footballer was present during their childhood matches. Better still, his position has allowed the most gifted players to springboard into academy teams at world-renowned clubs. Southampton is famed for its youth programme and has trialled a number of Samurai players.

If it wasn’t for this club, many young Japanese footballers would not play sports. The creation of a community space that centres around their heritage, but welcomes those from other cultures, allows a unique integration to the host country. Watching young people communicate effectively on the football pitch makes you contemplate wider society; how David Cameron could once proclaim that multiculturalism is dead.

Our documentary has sought to understand the experience of the coaches, who utilise football as a means of connecting the community. They have helped hundreds of young people find a place in a foreign land.

The player's receive a half-time team talk from Coach Simon

ノースアクトン・プレイングフィールドを拠点としている日系サッカーチームがある。イングランドサッカーの特徴とも言える若者の激しい戦いがピッチ上では繰り広げられている。 ゴールが決まった瞬間、チームカラーの赤いユニフォームを着た選手たちが一斉に群がり、歓声をあげた保護者らは互いに抱き合った。








Football Samurai Academy can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/4kTo1jNkAz4

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