SAPPORO – Haruyuki Ogawa achieved his dream of becoming a professional soccer player despite having hardly played the sport until age 22.
His life as an athlete, however, lasted less than a year. But he soon decided to follow another dream: to open a cafe, despite having little knowledge about cooking.
Ogawa, 35, became interested in soccer while watching the 2002 World Cup, which was co-hosted by Japan and South Korea.
He first started practicing the basics in a park. Continuing his training with a local team in Sasebo in Nagasaki Prefecture and an amateur team of the J-League club Urawa Reds in his native Saitama Prefecture, he began aspiring to reach the professional ranks.
In 2005, Ogawa went to Argentina to continue his training, sometimes struggling to communicate in Spanish and adapt to a different cultural environment. His dream came true in June 2007 when he became a professional as a member of Cambaceres, a third-tier team in the country.
However, Ogawa did not get a chance to play in an official game and retired from professional soccer in March 2008.
After he came back to Japan, he decided to take a completely new path: to learn how to cook at a cafe in Tokyo for 10 months.
Finally in June 2009, the former soccer player opened a cafe in Sapporo with wife, Namiko, 30, a Sapporo native.
At the cafe, named amor, Ogawa mainly serves waffles and fried chicken. He has also acquired the skill of latte art, the method of drawing patterns on the surface of latte by pouring steamed milk, and he can now draw more than 30 patterns.
Being a hard worker, Ogawa also encourages people who visit his cafe to “move a step forward with courage to open the door to possibility.”
“I will make more efforts to make customers smile, and make this cafe a place where they feel like coming home,” said Ogawa.