An English-language school in Hekinan, Aichi Prefecture, has tied up with the prestigious soccer school in the U.K. that produced David Beckham, aiming to help young Japanese get a grasp of the language so they can play abroad professionally.
The Bobby Charlton Soccer & Sports Academy, organized by Manchester United legend Bobby Charlton, sent a British coach to Japan to teach soccer to local youngsters in English.
“Run faster to that side!” Paraic Donnelly, the 23-year-old coach who arrived in late January, yelled to the little players on a playground in Hekinan’s waterfront area. “Go! Go!”
They practice every day Monday to Friday, with about 40 kids participating.
“At first, I was worried about doing practice only in English. But the coach taught me with gestures, so it was easy to understand and I enjoyed the lesson,” said 9-year-old Yuto Isogai, who is in the third grade in Fukuchi Hokubu Elementary School in Nishio.
The language school, ACC English School, that joined hands with the academy runs eight English schools in Aichi, mainly in the Mikawa region. Negotiations with the football academy started after the school received an inquiry from a high school student who aspired to play for a U.K. soccer club and wanted to master English quickly.
ACC English School President Masayoshi Adachi, 61, came up with the idea “of training children in English and giving them a chance to develop both their soccer and English skills while they are still small.”
To realize this idea, a British teacher at ACC e-mailed a request to the famous soccer academy in the U.K. The academy was quick to respond and talks on a partnership got under way.
“The deal was settled smoothly,” just like when a Beckham free kick hits the back of the net, said Geraldine Shiels, the academy’s managing director.
The 73-year-old Charlton was a forward and midfielder for Manchester United in the Premier League and contributed to the country’s championship in the 1966 World Cup. After retiring as a player, he nurtured the young Beckham and served as a bridge to get the future star to Manchester United.
The students will have the opportunity to join the academy’s summer camp in Manchester, England, where young players gather from across the globe. ACC also plans to launch a playground near Nagoya.
“I think our activity is very unique, and you can’t find it anywhere else in Japan,” Adachi said. “We hope that our graduates will become real global-minded people and play an active role on the international stage.”
This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Feb. 6