March 15, 2010

To You: Nagoya Oceans

I was with them for almost 12 days. Regulated, disciplined, on time. In short, Japanese, very Japanese, conforming to all what I used to hear about and expect from them.

Nagoya Oceans Futsal Club represented Japan in AFC Futsal Club Championship 2010 which was held in Isfahan, Iran. And I was their liaison officer. Such an easy job, given their well-organized, reliable personal and team behavior.

Their tomorrow schedule was always ready the night before, detailed and practical. And when it came to act according to the schedule, they were on-time, or more exactly, caring about every simple minute. To them, 7:30 means just 7:30, neither 7:29 nor 7:31. And you know, to an average Iranian, 7:30 means a period as wide as 6:00 to 8:00. It took me almost a day to get accustomed to their systematic, timely behavior.

They were very conservative, and meanwhile very friendly. Only one of them, Murayama (supervisor), was a fluent speaker of English. Watanabe (club manager) and Miyazawa (interpreter of the Portuguese head coach) spoke decent English. And I made friends with all of the three English speaking ones, especially Miyazawa. And with the head coach, Jose Adil, who invited me to a delicious pizza on the last night I was with them. And with the photographer, who fixed my camera once I was absolutely frustrated. And with Muri, whose fantastic performance in the pitch and nice dance in the stadium won the hearts of spectators. And with everybody else, less or more.

I was excited when they won just to get sad when they lost. I was not only with them, but also somehow found myself a member of their delegation. Waking up everyday at the same time, exchanging ‘hello, good morning’ every day, walking together, and touring the city together. Even I practiced with them, though not physically. And when they failed to make it in the semi final against Al-Sad from Qatar, I was as sad as the Japanese. It was then that I told Miyazawa “when you are this sad and exhausted, I feel sad and exhausted as well.”

At the gate of Imam Khomeini International Airport where they were about to depart, when I said goodbye to each one, especially once someone took the last photo of me with Miyazawa, I was about to burst into tears.

Such a great experience. Such a near-Japanese experience. Such a great memory.

Murayama gave me a JFA T-Shirt and Miyazawa gave me his Nagoya Oceans sportswear. Such a nice, great, invaluable present and memory, to remain in my custody, in my heart, forever.

I miss you all, my friends.