Japanese football star Shinji Kagawa plans Cebu trip next year

By: Mars G. Alison June 15,2019 - 01:40 PM

Japanese football star Shinji Kagawa (front, extreme left) and Cebu-based coach Hayato Ayabe (in pink polo shirt) with the staff of Fundlife International and Common Goal. /Contributed Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines – Japanese football star Shinji Kagawa may visit Cebu next year if his schedule would permit.

Hayato Ayabe, Guiseppe Football Club (GFC) volunteer coach, made the announcement following Kagawa’s June 13, 2019 visit of Super Typhoon Yolanda affected children in Tacloban City.

Ayabe acted as Kagawa’s English interpreter when the Japanese football star, who wears jersey no.10 on the Japan National Football Team, visited several public schools in Tacloban City in Leyte province to with meet children who survived the Super Typhoon.

While Kagawa, who also currently plays for Turkish Club Besiktas where he is on loan from German club Borussia Dortmund which he joined since 2010, speaks English, he is unable to do it fluently, this the need for an interpreter.

Cebu-based coach Hayato Ayabe (center) assist Japanese football star Shinji Kagawa (left) in signing jerseys during his Tacloban visit. /Contributed Photo

Ayabe, is a Japanese national who has lived in Cebu for a couple of years now. He was asked by Fundlife International, whose operations are based in Tacloban, to act as Kagawa’s interpreter during his visit to ensure better understanding with the locals.

He was also the one who read Kagawa’s message to the children.

In his message, Ayabe said that Kagawa encouraged children to always pursue their dreams.

“Most important is don’t forget your dream and everyday commit to practice, believe in yourself, and ask yourself what I want to be,” Ayabe said while reading Kagawa’s mmessage.

Ayabe said that children had so much fun even if they were not familiar who Kagawa was. Aside from giving an inspirational speech, the Japanese football star also visited and played football with children of Barangay Anibong, one of the communities most devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda.

Kagawa also visited resettlement communities in northern Tacloban to better understand how football is helping children stay committed to sports and education as well as support their social and educational development.

Kagawa’s visit was supported by FundLife, a local non-government organization (NGO) using football to support children through education and opportunity, and Common Goal, a global movement of professional football players supporting NGOs around the world using football to improve lives.

“We are extremely humbled that Shinji Kagawa, a global superstar, selected Tacloban as the community he wanted to visit most – we hope his visit will inspire and empower thousands of children to play football and focus on their education, no matter how challenging their situation is,” said FundLife founder Marko Kasic. /dcb

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