Japanese Aid: Tassei Marukawa, the Man Who Couldn’t Make the J-League, Wins MVP in Indonesia | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Japanese Aid: Tassei Marukawa, the Man Who Couldn’t Make the J-League, Wins MVP in Indonesia

Interview with "The Reversal of Life" From a life on the edge to a life in a mansion with an annual salary equivalent to that of a powerful J1 club!

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At a hotel in Bali, which I visited offline. Indonesia has a dream because its economy is growing so fast, and depending on how well you play, your salary will increase.

Indonesia is ranked a lowly 149th by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), compared to Japan’s 20th place. However, in this “weak” Southeast Asian country, a Japanese soccer player is becoming a star.

He is Taisei Marukawa, 26. Born in Hiroshima Prefecture, Marukawa went to Chuo University from Hiroshima Minami High School, a strong soccer team. Two years his senior at the university was Kyogo Furuhashi, 28, a Japan national team player for Celtic in Scotland, and five of his classmates, including Takumi Ueshima, 26, of Yokohama F. Marinos, have also joined the J-League. In contrast, Marukawa played only one official game in four years.

After job hunting, he received an unofficial offer from Nomura Securities, but he could not give up his dream of becoming a professional soccer player, so he started his professional career in the first division of Malta, a small country in Europe, in ’19. In February 2009, he sought a new home in Latvia, but his contract was terminated after one month due to a team mess. He was contacted by an Indonesian agent on SNS shortly afterward, and his life changed drastically when he went to Malta.

During my time in Malta, I was just barely making ends meet,” he said. When I arrived at the airport in Indonesia feeling like an amateur, I was immediately surrounded by reporters and had my picture taken ……. The local buzz was that “a helper was coming from Japan, an advanced soccer nation that has participated in six consecutive World Cups.

The “Japanese helper, ” who joined the club with great fanfare, played for Persebaya Surabaya of the Indonesian First Division in the 2009-2010 season, scoring 17 goals and 10 assists in 32 games. He was named the league’s player of the year, and his followers on Instagram, who numbered about 1,000 before his transfer, quickly exceeded 400,000.

He was also a great scorer, but he was not the type of player who likes to dribble and score goals,” he said.

Last year, he moved to PSIS Semarang with the achievement of MVP. His salary has more than doubled, and he now earns as much as a regular player at a strong J1 club.

His home is a house in an area where foreigners and other people live, and there are two security guards before you get to the front door. There are three bedrooms and two toilets. If I have more than two days off, I go to Bali or other resort areas to relax. If I had stayed in Japan, this kind of lifestyle would have been absolutely impossible. Thanks to this, I was able to marry my girlfriend this off-season.”

Marukawa’s success has drawn attention to the ” high-cost” Japanese players who are paid less than their Brazilian counterparts, and by the end of last season there were seven Japanese players in Indonesia’s first division league.

However, it is not so simple to say that anyone can play in Indonesia. The grass at stadiums and training pitches is bumpy. The temperature is high all year round, and above all, Marukawa says, “The supporters are so passionate that you have to be mentally tough to keep going. At the stadium, which can hold up to 60,000 people, there are always angry shouts, smoke bombs, and fights between supporters.

For important matches, such as derby matches, we sometimes enter the stadium in a windowless bus like a convoy because it is dangerous if the windows are broken by stone throwing. If we lose a match, we basically refrain from going out. If you can’t play well, you are in trouble (laughs). Most of the locals are Muslim and should not be able to drink alcohol. In other words, they are not drunk and rowdy, but the supporters are very serious and passionate about the game. ……

After becoming a star in Indonesia, Marukawa was unofficially approached by a J-League club to play for them, but “I turned them down because the conditions were better in Indonesia,” he laughs.

It has always been a dream of mine to go to the J-League, so I would be happy if the timing was right. It would be interesting to play in the AFC Champions League (ACL) and beat a J-League club because I couldn’t make it to the J-League.

Marukawa’s “reversal of life” is already looking promising, with dramatic goals on the horizon!

Indonesia’s professional league was established in 1994. It is more popular than badminton, the national sport, and is the most exciting in Asia!
The 2011-2012 season is scheduled to start in July. Will Marukawa, who is in his third year in Indonesia, be able to use his signature dribble again this season?

From the June 30, 2023 issue of FRIDAY

  • Reporting and writing Masao Kurihara PHOTO Courtesy of Tassei Marukawa

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