INTERVIEW: Japanese import flourishing in maiden Box Hill stint


Box Hill United senior women’s Japanese playmaker Asuka Kakazu has earned rave reviews since joining us this season, and recently spoke about leading by example.


With 17 Rounds of the league behind us, and the side progressing to the Nike FC Cup semi-final, Kakazu has featured in every match, impressing with her passing, vision and ability to switch gears during transition.


The diminutive midfield anchor, who played almost a decade of professional football in Japan prior to embarking on her first season with Box Hill, has also earned a glowing reputation of scoring from the occasional long-range stunner.


Reviewing her season so far, Kakazu said, “I am happy to have been able to play all the games without sustaining any injuries so far. The style of football is different here. In Australia, there is greater physical strength and speed compared to Japan.


“Rather than changing my style, I believe I can use my strengths and differences to find chances where I can complement the team instead.


“Due to my inability to communicate fluently in English [in every situation], I am unable to always offer words of encouragement and advice, despite my experience. That is why I try to lead by example through my play.” 



The former Velgata Sendai Ladies’ midfield dynamo praised her Box Hill colleagues’ battling mindset, epitomised more so in their vital league victories over Heidelberg United, Calder United and South Melbourne, and Alamein FC (Nike FC Cup Round 4). The side are firmly placed in mid-table, aiming for a strong finish in the NPLW season.


Kakazu added, “We are a young team, which has many advantages. I truly believe our young players are stepping up. However, there are is still room to grow and improve, to make up for our lack of concentration and experience. It’s also important not to become overly confident.”


Speaking about the impact of the Brian Roberts-Sam Mlynarz coaching duo on the team's encouraging run-in so far, she said, "Brian and Sam always have the team's best interests at heart. I really like that they are firm when they need to be, to keep the team focused.


"This is important as we are still a young team. So, while we have a lot to offer, there is still so much that we can improve on as well."


With the second phase of the campaign underway, the two-footed midfielder expressed her optimism, saying, “We have some pressure for the remainder of the season because we can’t afford to lose many matches. But we can pull through as a team. 


“It’s important that the attacking players – including myself – create more winning chances and goals to relieve the burden of the goalkeeper and the defenders. 


“I strongly believe that we can go much higher on the ladder, and hope to spread my positive mindset to the rest of my team.”


Images courtesy: Matt Johnson / Football Victoria

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