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Top Tips and More Wonderful Advice for aspiring footballers

If you read my blog of summer plans, you would know that my focus in recent weeks was about pre-season and finding a new team. So read on for my top tips and more wonderful advice for aspiring footballers.

I have had to make some small (read: big!) changes in order to secure myself a team for the 2021/22 season. And to add some complexity, not just any team. But a team that puts me in my preferred position.

Moving on from the youth division

In my case, due to my age, I was no longer eligible to continue in the youth division. So, I had to find and trial with a senior team. Considering I only played 1 game during my first and only proper, federation season in Spain, this was never going to be easy.

Here’s an insider tip. Everyone knows in Madrid, if not all over Spain, that signing and actually playing in every single game is hard. Particularly if your entry point is the U19 age group. So usually players have to look for opportunities at lower division clubs to gain experience. The goal at my age is to gain a performance portfolio.

Pre-season gets underway

I feel like a lot of people can really empathize with what I am about to say. Whether in a football context or not, I definitely learnt a thing or two about myself. And more to the point, about the industry I am venturing into.

So what happened in my first two weeks of pre-season at the club I was at?

I keep returning to the theme of evolving in every blog. Football is relentless in demanding that you pivot and move with agility.

Top tips

Divisions can be divisive (don’t let them be)

In Spain there are so many divisions and not everyone will be scouted by Real Madrid. So what are your options?

To give a spoiler, the club I am currently playing with is the first team.

But the club that I originally trialed with was a second team of a club in a higher division. But the opportunity ended up falling through because there simply wasn’t enough space.

Even recently, I went to trial with the first team of another club for two weeks. However, I decided to look elsewhere. Later, I will explain more about this situation.

When first isn’t the best for you

You may read this and ask, “Max, why would you go to a second team rather than a first team?”

So my Top Tip from my pre-season experience: Club’s that have second teams will have first teams in higher divisions. Unless of course their first team is in a low division and is clawing it’s way up. Don’t look at the division, look at the potential exposure and vertical mobility and weigh up your options.

Try above all else to put ego aside.

When the training schedule clashes with your other commitments

Anyways, I had an opportunity with the second team of this club, which meant morning training sessions (my preference). Whereas the club where I eventually signed trains in the night.

Obviously it isn’t the end of the world if one team trains in the morning and the other in the night.

Max Ogawa getting ready for pre-season trials

Accept what you can’t change

I definitely prefer training in the morning because you are fresher. You get to start off your day on a high. And then you have the rest of the day to focus on your studies and other aspects of life. There is a risk though that football dominates the day. You can spend more time playing, thinking and dreaming about football than studying. I say all this with some personal experience.

Juggling football at a high level and the final semester of high school was challenging, and my university entrance was at risk until I could buckle down for final exams.

When I train at night, I find it easier to focus on both on my studies and football. With more mental clarity and focus to attend to the demands of study. So from a life balance point of view, I am better off training at nights (even if it is not my preferred way of working).

Regardless of the training times, I feel very privileged to be where I am right now. And if I have to train in the cold nights of Madrid, so be it.

Build your inner circle and listen to them

Fortunately, I have quite a few people who have my best interests at heart. I am very grateful that I have people around me who support me through thick and thin. Build your support network as soon as you can. One or two trusted advisors are key, especially ones that are there to help you figure it out.

More Wonderful advice

Trials work both ways

Anyway, back to my experience with the second team of a higher division club.

Moving to the seniors, I felt that I needed a couple weeks to become used to the physicality demands and the speed of play.

The first week of pre-season featured introduction drills. Players could get a lot of touches on the ball and build up their stamina.

The second week preparation began for pre-season games and the upcoming season. This meant drills that included pressing and playing out from the back. Towards the end of the week, to finish off, we played a game.

Count the minutes

The coaches put the players in their positions, except for me. The coaching staff did mix it up a bit. If the coaching staff felt that a player already signed could be useful elsewhere, they put them in another position. Regardless, in my case, my preferred position is as an attacking mid-fielder.

But I played right-back for one half. Right away I felt the need to say something because I didn’t feel useful there.

I knew I could compete against starting mid-fielders. But due to my status, the coaching staff wanted to see if I could gain minutes with the club.

As a young footballer just starting out the most important thing is to play. To play every single game and gather a lot of minutes. And to get a lot of good statistics to tell your player story.

Know when to walk away

Signing with the club was imminent. And even if I played at right-back, I can guarantee that I would fight for a starting spot. And earn it.

However, in these types of situations, you need to know when to leave. I knew my future in football would never be of myself playing right-back. It would be as playing as an attacking-midfielder, winger, or as a striker. And I need to focus on positioning myself for success.

Look to the quality of the coaching staff

Another thing that you should take into account how you are being treated. I don’t ask the world from coaches. But having a coach who critiques you is very important. It shows that he cares about your performance and your development.

Although it is still early, I feel some sort of worth given to me by the coaching staff. This is something that I lacked at Getafe CF and the club I previously trailed with.

The coaching staff never spoke to me before or after training explaining to me about how I can become a better player.

You may read this and say, “Max, in these types of situations, instead of them speaking to you, you need to ask them yourself.”

Indeed, I do ask coaches how I can improve. In the case of my time at Getafe CF, the responses were very blunt and not in-depth. Whereas a player the coach clearly cared about would get lots of 1:1 time after training.

More top tips for aspiring footballers

Long term thinking creates your player pathway

Fortunately, a new opportunity came up right away. I feel very honored and excited to begin this new stage and hopefully shine in this competition.

I can’t give away any specifics yet. Firstly, I need to wait until the club submits the necessary paperwork. And secondly, I need to wait until the club has announced my incorporation into the team.

At the time I am writing this blog, I am in my first week of pre-season with my new team. Time to dust off the cobwebs that have gathered during the summer break and prepare for the season ahead.

Now we will play against other clubs. Most are either in the same division or youth squads of big teams here in Madrid.

With the type of treatment I am receiving now, I already feel part of the team. Obviously I am playing in my preferred position. Instead of just being a fill-in if players are missing in other positions.

These types of things can make a player into a better player. It gives you more confidence, and with confidence you believe in yourself more, which will help you perform better.

Top tips for staying true to your abilities

Just to summarize everything, know when to stay and know when to leave. Seek other options if you feel it is necessary.

Never settle for a club that will play you in a position you do not believe will be beneficial for your future.

Know your worth and what you bring the table. If you get signed – in football or a normal work space – you will experience ups and downs.

I’d love to hear your own experience for creating a player pathway, in Spain or anywhere in the world.

Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My site icon is the Japanese character for “Sakae”.

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When grown men cry and the world is watching

If you have been following, in my previous post, I spoke about the Copa America, however, I couldn’t quite fit the Euros into it. As promised, this blog is all about Euro 2020. The competition that is guaranteed to make grown men cry. And the fans turn on their own.

Filling the stadiums again

Now, I don’t know whether this is a popular opinion, but for the past two years, watching football seemed to not be as enjoyable as it used to be. Of course, I think Covid-19 had a significant impact on the game. Considering that supporters weren’t allowed inside stadiums.

Saying that, the Euro 2020, in particular from the quarter finals to the finals is where football came to life. Finally fans were allowed to watch the games and without a doubt, this made the whole atmosphere a lot better. But this competition wasn’t just spectacular because of the fans. It is also because of the kind of football that we saw throughout the whole competition.

Gripping and heart-stopping

Watching the semi-finals and the finals, I was constantly on the edge of my seat, waiting to see who will score and go through to the next round. But, of course national teams came to this competition wanting to win and no matter who scored first, the other team would be hungry for that equaliser.

A clear example is the round of 16 game when Switzerland gave an exhilarating match against France. Although, Switzerland were on the front foot by scoring first, France wouldn’t give up easily. Considering the amount of hype and pressure placed on the team, expectations were high. The French team that competed in the Euro 2020 is called the “golden era”. And keep in mind, some if not most of the players in that squad were World Cup champions in 2018.

Nail-biting to the last second

Although it took until the second-half for France to equalise, they replied with three goals. One after the other, without a response from Switzerland. Making for an intense last 10 minutes of the game because one nation would continue and the other would pack their bags.

Anything can (and will) happen

Coming into the game, France were the favourites, but Switzerland clearly wanted to give them a fight. In the 81′ , Switzerland scored one. In the 90′ , Switzerland equalised. As soon as Switzerland scored that second goal, the whole stadium lit up with excitement and hope. With the third and equaliser, the stadium exploded with cheers from the Swiss fans and the nations bench.

A stunned response from the French team

It is obvious that France were completely stunned as soon as they conceded not one but two goals in the last 10 minutes of normal time. But the final whistle wasn’t blown. Coming into extra-time, you could sense the fighting spirit in the Swiss team, technical team, and the fans. They were all united as one nation. France on the other hand were on the back foot and since that stunner, they couldn’t quite find their rhythm again.

After 120 minutes of incredible, yet surprising football, the game went to penalties. To end the story quick, France sadly were defeated 4-5 and Switzerland left in high spirits and full of confidence to compete in the quarter finals.

Surprises and upsets

To sum it all up, in this particular Euro competition, what seemed to be an easy win to a particular nation was quite the opposite, no matter if the opponent was the underdog coming into the match. This kind of game wasn’t the only one that occurred throughout the competition. Other match-ups had almost impossible comebacks, tears, disappointmets, and screams that woke the entire world.

And then the Final

The theme continued up to the final of the Euro 20 when Italy met England.

There are quite a few notes to add that were talked about and seen from each nation.

It’s coming home

From the mouths of the English ‘it’s coming home’, they said. Certain that they had waited in the wings long enough. England hasn’t won an international trophy for quite some time. The last time the nation won something was in the 1900’s. The English squad that competed in the World Cup 2018 did come close to some sort of silverware. However, they were eliminated in the semi-final, just missing out on their opportunity of competing in the finals.

The ‘golden era’ jumps the channel

I said this with the French and it is the same with the English. The England squad that featured in the Euro 2020 was full of youth and top talent. The squad was named the “golden era”. Never mind that this piles on the pressure. Never mind that self-defeating superstitious air of defeat. As if when they can’t win anything now, they won’t be able to win anything in the future. All hopes and dreams were resting on taking away a victory in Euro 2020.

The journey up the ladder

Although, England started off kind of rocky in the group stages, they started picking it up in the round of 16. Then they just kept on improving with the mantra to bring it home gaining momentum.

Honestly, when I looked at the England squad, there were some positions that I couldn’t confidently name a player that should start. Because when I saw the players available, there were just so many amazing players to pick from.

But what of Italy?

On the other hand, Italy were a team that kept on competing and showing their dominance throughout the entirety of the competition.

Before coming into the competition, Italy was on an unbeaten streak of 30 odd games. The question was whether they could maintain this unbeaten run, even against the likes of Belgium, Spain, and England.

Just like the England squad, the Italians have youth and an enthusiastic manager. His interesting tactics and style of play was very intriguing and to say the least. Watching Italy play, there was never a dull moment.

Youth and experience

Something I want to acknowledge is the centre-back partnership of Bonucci and Chiellini. They proved that age is no factor for people that are determined, have a strong mindset, and who are willing to compete till the absolute the end.

The combined age of this fabulous duo as I am writing this is 70. It is incredible to think that a couple years ago, footballers aged 30 or more did not consider their football career to be ahead of them. Nowadays as football is becoming more modern, football players are becoming more aware of looking after their health. It is exciting news that nutrition, sleep, recovery and different types of exercises can help us achieve a high level performance to sustain a longer football career.

The outcome seemed assured

Anyways, to get to the result. In the earlier stages of the game, England looked like they were going to come away with the win. People were screaming, “it’s coming home”, flushed with the first signs of success. Due to an early opener which was in the 2′.

Italy on the other hand had other ideas. In the first half, England was definitely superior, however, Italy kept their heads in check and ended up equalising in the second half. As the game neared full time, Italy was dominating. Determined to get another goal before the final whistle for outright victory.

That wasn’t the case, however. Italy couldn’t find that second goal, which meant both nations went into extra time 1-1.

Not a lot happened in extra time. Fatigue kicked in for the players of both teams. The whistle blew again after a long, eventful 120′ of football.

Now, it was time for penalties. Keep this in mind: England has had a terrible track record with penalties. Losing on penalties means feeling cheated of the win, it is a heart-breaking way to exit the competition.

The Italians knew they would win if it came to a penalty shoot out

For England, their penalty shootout curse lived on. What a day to be Italian. It was shocking. The final score came to 1-1 (3-2), to Italy, which meant that England had missed three penalties and England two. It’s certainly enough to bring the fans to tears.

Google celebrate the Italian win

Coming to grips with the cup not coming home after all

After the match fans criticized the decisions English players had taken and the decisions made from the manager. It was quite sad. Instead of the supporters cheering up the players and acknowledging the effort they put in during the whole competition. A sour controversy ensued. Some supporters decided to make racist remarks towards players and others complained.

When grown men cry foul

The way I see it is win or lose, supporters need to unite with the players and staff of a team. Or as a nation sticking together in the highs and lows, not just when they get the win. It is the game of football.

But we know the players will recover

Racism should not be a response to disappointing results.

All these situations allow individuals to become a better version of themselves and manage disappointment with a tougher mentality.

Usually I’m talking about how a football player needs to dig deep. These types of situations can break players. But most likely, they have already overcome great odds and adversity to get where they are now. And they are my age or just a bit older, they have resilience and determination.

So this time, I’m talking about the fans. When grown men cry, and cry ugly racial slurs, and turn on their own. It’s time to bring some new perspective on what we like to call the ‘beautiful game’.

I hope the players have the support of loved ones or a belief in God to carry them through to the next season. And I can’t wait to see them all back on the field.

Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My site icon is the Japanese character for “Sakae”.

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The best week ever in football

I’ll tell you why this week in football has been the best week ever in five words: Euro 2020 and Copa America. Boom. And finally, a post that stretches beyond Madrid, beyond Spain and yes, even football.

Good memories, tears, broken hearts, and insights into the future of football. What a week!

This week in football

No matter if you are a football fan or not, you can’t have missed the two competitions that the world of sport can’t stop talking about this week: Euro 2020 and Copa America. Five words I tell you. Best week ever!

Spoiler alert for those who don’t know who won either competition. For Euro 2020, Italy ended up defeating England in penalties after a 1-1 full-time score. And for the Copa America, Argentina took the win from Brazil 1-0 in normal time.

All eyes are on the players

From these tournaments, there are always players that seem to steal the spotlight and make a name for themselves. Then there are the players that cannot live to their hype. Either way, before, during, and after any game that is played, the pressure is on. And the world has an opinion. Ready to criticize or praise countries, the management team, and most definitely the players.

Jumping on the Messi express

There are many reasons why I love and pay attention to these tournaments. And I’m not the only one.

  • Who wouldn’t want to watch these types of games? Seriously, each country’s best players come together to compete against each other. If you thought PSG or Man City had a dream team, take a look at the squad list of England, Portugal, France, etc.
  • These types of tournaments are so popular that it brings a lot of opportunities for players who didn’t have a lot of exposure. Many football players have been called up to their respective national team following a noticeable performance during their club’s competitive seasons. And before they have time to soak everything in, clubs all around the world are asking them to put pen to paper.
  • It really showcases the different types of mentalities with different football cultures. A lot of players grew up in Third-World countries and football was their exit from poverty. Thus when they enter the football pitch, they have such a strong, determined mentality. From watching games, especially those that took place at the later stages of the tournaments, you could clearly see and compare.
  • To add on to the topic of mentality, these types of events are make or break as no one wants to go home empty handed. This is even truer if their country’s squad is in the golden era or if it is an individual’s final tournament for their career.

Best week ever for the winners

Following the conclusion of the two tournaments, there are a lot of different scenarios that could unfold for an individual. For players that go home with a nationally-recognised trophy and a gold medal, will they take it easy for awhile? Relax and enjoy family?

But what of the losers (if you can call them that)

Is it different for players that leave the tournaments empty-handed? They’re not really losers, let’s face it: every single one of them has done themselves and their country proud.

Some players will be exhausted from the entire season and longing for a break. Others will treat the grueling competition as the start of preseason and segue into the next season after a short break.

Still another may draw inwards, focusing on themselves so they can go into the pre-season fully prepared.

Two big matches in one day

Now, the Copa America and Euro 2020 games were on the same day. However, the final of the Copa America was hours before the final of the Euros. So let’s start there. Why this week in football is the best week ever: two great tournaments on the same day.

It’s the Copa America like you’ve never seen it

Google brings the fireworks for Argentina

As I said earlier, the final was Argentina and Brazil. If you’re just like everyone else that follows football, as soon as you hear Argentina, you think of Maradona and Messi and when you think of Brazil, the people that come to mind are Pelé and Neymar.

On one side was Argentina and all the talk was the chance for Messi to be able to win something at an international level because he has already won basically everything in the world of football, both for club and individual efforts, but the only thing that “haunted” his legacy and reputation was that international achievement.

The win that will become NFT: that’s why

During the competition, without a doubt that the world saw a different kind of Messi on the pitch. He looked more determined to go all the way. He was even trying to defend. That is unheard of!

Squads that represented Argentina previously always lacked something within the squad. Whenever Argentina was playing in a world-renowned tournament, the team faded into the background. Messi needed to put in an inhuman kind of performance in order to drag along both his teammates and country to victory.

Teammates become fierce rivals

For this particular tournament, there was a different feeling. Yes, Messi wanted to win, but it was obvious that his teammates were even more determined to win it, not only for themselves and their families but for him.

On the other hand, there was a strong Brazilian side. And they were the favorites to win before the commencement of the tournament. Just like Messi, Neymar was also lacking a major international achievement at a professional level.

To rewind a bit, the reason Neymar left Barca was to get out from under Messi’s shadow. To shine on his own. So, a bit of history for these former team mates.

Everyone got behind a Messi win

Furthermore, apparently, some Brazilian supporters were rooting for Messi to win because he had been close before, but could never take home the prize. To get the recognition for being the best football player in the world. It is a deserved honor.

This particular matchup was very interesting and definitely made for good entertainment. As you already know if you read earlier, the game ended as 1-0. Argentina were champions of Copa America and Messi was one happy man.

You could tell that it meant so much to him and his teammates. As soon as the final whistle blew, everyone ran to Messi, who fell to his knees, crying, and they embraced him.

Meanwhile, the Brazil national team were heartbroken and a lot of tears were shed. A familiar sight this week if you go across the world to Wembley Stadium.

And why this week in football needs a second post

Stay tuned for next week’s – talking everything about the Euros.

Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My site icon is the Japanese character for “Sakae”.

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Brilliant tips from my first media interview

Brilliant tips from my first media interview or a list of things not to do? Here’s my Top 3. You be the judge.

First a quick recap following my last post. This is part 2 of the happy events that followed my debut game and debut goal. In my last post I shared how my performance and debut goal was acknowledged publicly. And to top it off, the staff felt the need to talk about me as a player and as a person to the whole group. To my utter astonishment and delight, they held up my perseverance and hard work as an example to others.

Mic drop: my first media interview is in Spanish

But then it got even better. The day after the game, the club asked me to go to the stadium after Tuesday’s practice to answer a few questions. The club has a designated media manager. So I was very excited to get the invitation.

The interview questions were to cover the season, my performance, the coaching staff, and the team. But there was a catch. The whole interview was to be in Spanish.

#1 of the brilliant tips from my first media interview: no media opportunity is wasted

I reminded myself that I have been in Spain for 2 years now. The topic was of course something I’m familiar with (me). And my speaking and understanding skills were up to the interview challenge. But I knew that nerves would play a part and that the interview could go in any direction. It was hard to prepare for it.

Nevertheless, I was extremely proud to do something like this after my very first game. When we were playing junior football we would sometimes practice in front of parents, the team and the coaches. That was years ago. A childhood dream. Was it enough to prepare me for the real thing?

The 2nd of my brilliant tips: there’s always a first time

Some people are born ready. For me, a little bit of an disclaimer beforehand: did I mention already how nervous I was?

Brilliant tips from my first media interview. Click to hear Max Ogawa talking about his first season with La Liga
Click to hear my brilliant first interview

OK my accent gives me away before you even hear my responses. Also please disregard the fact that I’m not in the cover photo. I guess they hoped no-one would notice. Even so this was a great experience and easier than expected.

I left the stadium full of smiles from everything that happened that day. Before too long however, life went back to normal.

The 3rd of my brilliant tips: enjoy it while it lasts

If I have any brilliant tips from my first media interview it’s this: enjoy it while it lasts. It all happens so fast.

As I am writing this, the season and training sessions have finished. It is now time to look into the future. I already have a University that I will be attending this coming fall in Madrid. All that is left for me to do is to enjoy a nice summer, completing tasks, running errands, training and enjoying the summer. Follow me over the summer to see what happens next.

Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My site icon is the Japanese character for “Sakae”.

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The ultimate secret to playing in La Liga: what you can do right now

As the season is coming to an end, everything is wrapping up and teams are starting to focus on the upcoming 2021/22 season. But there is a way to be noticed even now: read on to discover the ultimate secret to playing in La Liga.

This is the perfect opportunity for me to clock some playing minutes and show my hard work in an actual league game. Finishing in the top three is now impossible, due to the point gap. But my own individual dream lives on.

Playing in La Liga against Real Madrid

The last time we played a league game was on the 25th of April against Real Madrid CF. This was the first time I was called off the bench to warm up. My coach called me and two of my teammates 10 minutes before half-time. At that moment, I was very eager to step out on the pitch to compete against the team everyone dreams of playing and one of the best academies in the world: Real Madrid.

The secret to playing: Dare to Dream

I continued to warm up in the break as well as the second half, not allowing myself to get too excited. Which is just as well, because this was not my time. And this might look like a negative to someone else but to me, it was another step closer, the closest I’d been so far.

For the other games, I had been selected for the playing list. But this time the coach had thought to put me on the pitch. Right next to the action. Everywhere I looked, Whites. Closer to the action and closer to making my dream a reality.

Double down, double dare

From then, we didn’t have any games for two consecutive weeks and I knew what I had to do. Prove to my coach that he can rely on me on the pitch. The secret to me playing in La Liga is to get out of my mind and inside of his.

In those two weeks, I knew what the mindset of my teammates would be like. They would be relaxed and comfortable. But I, on the other hand ran for every single ball. I worked two times harder than everybody else. And I was the loudest on the pitch, encouraging and informing my teammates. Letting them know I’d arrived.

Playing in La Liga

Two weeks went by and I trained well. I started to learn more about the game. And the coach was caring more about me. I started feeling more confident in my ability. During this time, at the end of one of the sessions my coach pulled me aside and spoke to me about the Real Madrid game.

I wanted to put you on against Real Madrid CF. I am the coach and I think you are performing amazingly and training very intensively.

Getafe CF U19 Coach

It meant a lot. Remember, the beginning? He could barely give me an answer about my level and how to improve. But now he is giving me tips and tricks to use to gain an advantage over my opponents. I dared to voice my opinions on the team during these two weeks. As no-one really cared to put their best foot forward with no upcoming games. The coach told me to focus on myself and not to worry about the others.

Two more games to go, two more chances

So the two weeks went by quickly and our previously 10 man group training sessions turned to 23 man sessions. We included goalkeepers to get ready for the match against Rayo Vallecano. But these are 23 talented football players, all vying for the starting line-up and the right to represent Getafe CF on the pitch.

From all the weeks of training, I felt I deserved a spot on that team for the match. But was it enough to convince the coach?

The day before the game

We had our normal Friday session before the game, which consisted of a warm-up as usual. Then we headed into our tactical play. This paid careful attention to the opposition’s playing style and how we to counteract it. I didn’t let up. I dared.

This was followed by the “doble area” which is a small-sided pitch with two goals and three teams. It’s challenging on many levels. Two teams play on the pitch, while the third team plays on the outside to assist with play. Whichever teams scores, stays on the pitch. I dreamed.

Every single Friday session before a game, there are always two teams. One that will start on the weekend, and the other that will either be on the bench or not make the 20 man squad. I dreamed big.

Being selected for the squad did not surprise me at all. I went into confident and optimistic that I could be put on in the second-half. But I still had to be ready for the actual game.

Game day

I wasn’t asked to warm up in the first half nor in the break, which made it seem like my chances of playing were small.

At about the 50th minute into the second half, the assistant coach called upon me to warm up. So straight away I focused on the task at hand. I was imagining certain movements that the coach asks of us in training. And I saw a lot of openings to be able to perform them while I had been sitting on the bench.

Shortly after, I was asked for again, but this time to the bench where the technical staff were located to put my game shirt and shin pads on. And finally, to be sent on the pitch.

Before I hopped onto the pitch, the assistant coach ran me through the tactics and certain decisions he wanted me to execute.

And just like that, I was on. Years ago, months ago, weeks ago, days ago, minutes ago. I had dreamed of this moment. And then that dream became a reality.

In the moment

I came on in the 60th minute, prepared and excited for the game ahead. The big moment but I wanted to keep everything simple and follow the coach’s game philosophy.

I played a normal game, but I think my performance reflected the hard work and fight I have.

Although it was a nice feeling, at the end of the day, I had an obligation to do my job. And I needed to display to the club, the spectators, my teammates, and especially to the technical staff that I deserve to play. And that if I am playing, the team is benefiting.

Living the dream

The Rayo Vallecano U19 squad was not nearly as good as opposition we previously played. They made constant errors defensively and offensively and the team as a whole wasn’t strong. Sadly, the result from the game doesn’t really display that. But then, it’s football.

Don’t forget that every team is a worthy opponent. And that’s part of the secret to playing in La Liga, every team is good enough on your journey to the top.

But then there’s this:

My debut goal with Getafe CF U19 against Rayo Vallecano in the Division de Honor.

Share the secret to playing in La Liga

While I felt extremely proud to have scored this goal, and to be frank, I think I got a little bit lucky with the shot considering there were a lot of opponent bodies trying to defend.

Although there is only 1 more game left in the season, I am still extremely eager to get on that pitch for that final game and try to gain some more minutes. Follow me and share how you are making your dreams your reality. And do you have a secret to playing in La Liga that you can share?

Max Sakae Ogawa
Max Sakae Ogawa

Random fact #1
Sakae means brilliant. Flourish, prosperity, honor and glory. Take your pick.
Random fact #2
My site icon is the Japanese character for “Sakae”.

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Hot News! I’m signing my first football contract

Signing your first football contract takes grit. You will hear me talking about grit all the time. Grit means hanging in there when everything looks like it is against you. It is the daily practice of going out there and trying to be better than you were the day before.

I’m so proud to be selected to joining the U19 Getafe team. It’s what I’ve been working toward for so many years. Watch my journey develop as I share my highs and lows. I’m hoping for lots of the former and not so many of the latter but if my past experience is anything to go by, there will be plenty of both.

The last time I was registered anywhere in the world was 2018. My impatience to strap on my boots and walk out onto the field again is palatable.

Signing your contract does not mean playing

Are you in the same boat? Maybe you are just waiting on the results of a trial or an exam. Here’s what I’m doing while I wait:

  • Grade 12 homework, it keeps me busy
  • University applications: it’s application season and I have lots to do: entry exams, interviews and ‘express yourself’ videos
  • Meditation, face packs, and good grooming: a little bit of self care
  • Gym and training: I’m ready when they are
  • Physio and rollers: Trying to stay in peak physical fitness and dealing with all those niggles and aches while I wait
  • Just hanging out with friends: you know who you are
  • Calling home: my mum, my dad and my bro are my greatest supporters

Success doesn’t come overnight, and even when you are signing your first football contract it is elusive. The paperwork has to be done and there is no way of rushing it. As the day draws nearer, my patience is tested like never before, but in the meantime, if there is one thing I know it is this: I am not in control of everything.😊

What do you do to keep your mind occupied or to relax while waiting on the results of something important? Leave your comments below!

In the meantime, you can read the announcement here.