2019 Japan National Team Competes in Chicago Suburb for FIVB Volleyball Men’s Nations League Title
• A national men’s volleyball team from Japan competed
in an international tournament held in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates
from June 21 to 23, facing off against the teams from China, Canada and
• During the five-week period, 16 qualified teams (12
core teams and four challenger teams) competed across the globe to qualify
for the final games in an all-play-all tournament format. Each week, the
16 teams, divided into four pools of four teams, competed with each other
in the pool’s host country. Every team in one pool would play against
three other teams each week, ending up with 15 games played before the
• The Japanese team of 14 players began the tournament
in Serbia, then traveling to Tokyo, Bulgaria, Hoffman Estates and Germany,
staying for one week at a time.
• Following the match against Canada on June 23, Team Japan was invited to the official residence of Consul-General Naoki Ito who welcomed the jet-lagged members with Japanese food and words of encouragement.
• “I can still recite the names of Team Japan’s 12 players in men’s volleyball at the 1972 Munich Olympics, who won a gold medal. That had such a strong impact on me that it’s been burned into my memory,” Ito said. “We hope that you will recreate that moment for us.”
• Hisanori Yajima, Men’s Performance Development Committee
Chair at the Japan Volleyball Association, summed up the team’s performance
in Hoffman Estates as meaningful.
• Meanwhile, Head Coach Yuichi Nakagaichi stressed the
hard conditions the players must endure while competing in an international
• Hiroshi Tanaka, the accompanying physiotherapist from
the Japan Volleyball Association, said the players have been suffering
unrelenting jet lag that was making them labor for the weekend games.
• Each of the 14 members of Team Japan has been selected from their home teams such as the Panasonic Panthers and Toray Arrows. They were chosen by the Japan Volleyball Association, following the end of the volleyball season in April, to join the national team.
Interview with Team Captain Masahiro Yanagida
Q: I understand that it’s an honor to have that Team Japan emblem on your uniform.
Yanagida: Yes, I didn’t know this until now, but the
emblem’s got the gold trimming only when it’s for the national team. The
trimming would be in a different color for the younger team, I heard.
Q: How do you get to be chosen to be one with the gold-trimmed emblem?
Yanagida: With your talent, obviously. All of the players in our team have a great talent, technique, and potential, with all different characters. You don’t take a test or anything – just picked out by the Association.
Q: It’s a group of players from all different teams. Any problem in terms of teamwork?
Yanagida: In the beginning, it’s hard sometimes. But [in the end] it works out because they are all top-level athletes.
Q: How hard is it for you, as the captain, to lead the team with members of such a diverse age group ranging from the teens to the 30s?
Yanagida: I try to not persist on “leading” the team just because I’m the captain. It’s best, for me, to lead the others by playing well. Play well as a member of the team first and foremost – that’s my ideal.
For me, the role of a captain is to encourage good communication in the team. Volleyball is a sport with a flow, and the air in the team has a serious impact on the game we play. It’s a pretty obvious thing, but I pay attention to the condition of the team, so that a bad condition of one of the players won’t affect the entire team.
Q: Thank you very much.
2019 Volleyball Nations League results are as follows:
1. Brazil (14 wins – 1 loss)
The members of Japan’s Volleyball National Team pose for a photo at Consul General’s official residence.
Team Captain Masahiro Yanagida presents a team T-shirt to Consul General Naoki Ito.