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Takakura Mazi: The fighting spirit of Chinese women’s football players is not as good as before, and I never thought about coaching Chinese women’s football

In an interview with Oriental Sports Daily, Shanghai women’s football coach Masako Takakura talked about topics related to Chinese women’s football, stating that she had no intention of coaching Chinese women’s football.

On the Feelings of Watching the Olympic Preliminaries

The grouping situation of the Chinese team this time is quite difficult, but it is not entirely impossible for them to qualify. I have only been coaching in China for less than a year, so my understanding of the women’s national team is limited. I have watched several matches and it’s not easy to say about the matches, but in terms of the team’s performance and discipline on the field, the so-called discipline is the norm. I feel that the penetration of the Chinese team in the front court (the ability to create threats) is not very enough, and the overall situation is a bit chaotic. The ball is difficult to operate, and the cooperation between them is too unfamiliar. Players often play alone, I finished the task by handling the ball myself (without considering my teammates). Moreover, both ends of the attack and defense are relatively monotonous.

From an individual perspective, some players have the ability to handle the ball more reasonably. But when all individuals form a team, they are not integrated into an organic whole, like a machine that cannot function. I am very familiar with Shui Qingxia, but we have not entered the team. From the perspective of onlookers, it is easy to talk about, but it will also be difficult to actually coach this team.

On the Differences between New and Old Women’s Football Teams

When I was a player before, I played many games with the Chinese team and knew many people. Compared to them, the current Chinese women’s football team, especially in recent years, feels a lack of desire to win. The old women’s football team in the past, although they did not achieve particularly brilliant achievements, they all worked hard for the country. Now that China has become richer, the income of players has increased, but the fighting spirit is not as good as before.

On Women’s Professional Football League

Whether a country’s football is strong or not depends on the league. The feeling I have had in China in the past few months is that the cooperation between the Chinese national team and the league is not good enough. Our team’s international players sometimes “disappear” (go to the national team for training) for a long time, and they come back with the team to play in the league within a few days. After playing a stage of the game, the international players “disappeared” again… As the head coach of the club, how should I coach my team to play well in the league?

From the perspective of the club coach, I am very confused. But in Japan and other (European and American) countries, the league is the foundation, and the national team borrows players from clubs to select players who perform well in the league to participate in international matches. These players belong to the club, while Chinese players first belong to the national team, so they first consider the national team’s matches, but the league ranks second, or even just a form. So, it is difficult to improve the level of the league.

The women’s professional football league in Japan was only fully launched three years ago. Prior to this, players had their own professions and playing football was just a sideline. But even with professional leagues now, only a few of the highest performing players in each team have signed professional contracts to make a living in football, while others still have their own job responsibilities. Moreover, to my knowledge, the income level of the Chinese women’s professional football league is higher than that of Japan.

On the level of women’s football youth training

The youth training in Shanghai is considered leading nationwide, and I have also followed the U16 and other echelons at the base. Regarding youth training, not only China, but also the world attaches great importance to it. In my opinion, the improvement of youth training, league, national team, and coach level are the four pillars of a country’s football.

China has started to attach importance to youth training, but Chinese players do not have a strong purpose in playing football and rely more on their bodies to play, so it is difficult to improve, and this is the result of youth training. Football has a system, and every action has a clear purpose and cannot be arbitrary. You should learn to consciously play football from a young age. If this is not learned well in childhood, then the future will not go far.

On Football “Westernization Movement”

Japan has also learned from other countries with advanced football skills, such as Brazil and Germany. But it’s impossible for Brazil to win and learn from Brazil, Spain to win and learn from Spain… Japan is Japan, China is China. Even with advanced technology and concepts, it is not necessarily suitable for China. Japan has Japanese characteristics, while China has Chinese characteristics. The primary principle of learning is to have a clear understanding of oneself. Where is the advantage of football in other countries compared to China.

For example, if German football is better overall than us, then we can learn this advantage. If Brazil’s small-scale mix is better than ours, then we will learn this advantage. It is meaningless to completely copy them without having one’s own opinions. Overall, Japanese football did not follow the Brazilian or German route, but only learned some of their strengths.

Talking about Life in Shanghai

There are many good impressions of Shanghai, especially the cuisine. When I first arrived in Shanghai, I only heard of Xiaolongbao, so I wanted to eat Xiaolongbao when I arrived in Shanghai. But after living for a period of time, I realized that there were so many and rich Chinese cuisine. For example, hairy crabs, as well as some spicy dishes such as hot pot and Sichuan cuisine, are all very delicious. I just had Guizhou cuisine once and found it very delicious. Chinese cuisine is really amazing, living here is very happy.

Talking about coaching the national team again

Being a coach for the national team is very difficult. After the Tokyo Olympics, I felt very tired at the time and thought that I would never be the coach of the national team again. I only wanted to coach a club. But after watching the World Cup, especially seeing the excitement brought by old friends and acquaintances leading their respective teams on the international stage, I also changed my mind. If there are such opportunities in the future, I also want to challenge myself. Of course, this also requires coincidence.

Now, I only focus on the Shanghai women’s football team. We have a very good team here with excellent conditions, and I am also very happy to work here. Coach the Chinese national team? Sorry, I have never thought about this issue before.

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