This summer, St. Louis Scott Gallagher was happy to welcome 3 youth players from Japan to train with St. Louis Scott Gallagher for a week. Yuta Mitsui (13), Tom Funahara (13), and Mahiro Ichikawa (12) made the long journey from Japan to St. Louis and had the opportunity to train and hone their skills against other top kids from the area. This was the kid’s first time coming to the United States and they were very excited. The trio stayed with a host family for a week and Kentaro Takada from Saint Louis FC served as an ambassador and translator.
All three currently play for Club ARRIBA, which is located in the Kansai area of Japan. The team is known in Japan for their strong youth teams and developing talented young players from throughout the country. The club focuses on developing technical skills and a possession game — even at such a young age. St. Louis Scott Gallagher was very interested in having the kids come over and test their skills against some of the academy kids.
On the flipside, Yuta, Tom, and Mahiro were very interested in playing against American kids to see if they could complete against what they believed were physically stronger, faster, and bigger youth kids. Throughout the week the kids went also through PDT (professional development training), 5vs5, and scrimmage with pre-academy and academy kids. “The kids were very quick, extremely technical, and their level was in line with our top players.” said youth director Ken Godat. “The kids were very respectful and unity was one of their main core values,” said Godat.
The boys also got the opportunity to play against numerous youth players from the area. “They are the same age as me but they are very strong, fast, and have very good technique. I was very impressed by them,” said Yuta.
Players like Tyler David and Kentaro Takada from Saint Louis FC stopped by to scrimmage with the kids and teach them more about how the game was played in America. “The kids showed great technique, strength, and poise against top players from SLSG at their age category; it was spectacular,” said Takada.
As the week was winding down, the kids got the chance to explore the St. Louis area and see what the city had to offer. “I’m so happy that I made this journey, it was the best week of my life!” said Yuta.
At the end of the trip, the main goal was to build a beneficial relationship between the two clubs and share ideas; we hope to exchange more players in the future.” said Kentaro Takada of Saint Louis FC and St. Louis Scott Gallagher coaching staff.