Why Hirohide YAKUMARU’s second son, Hayato, “works for a prestigious German soccer club” | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Why Hirohide YAKUMARU’s second son, Hayato, “works for a prestigious German soccer club”

He is fluent in English, German, and Spanish. After playing overseas, he became a backstage worker at a prestigious German club.

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At Fortuna Dusseldorf’s home stadium. The club is a prestigious one, founded in 1895 (Photo: Shinji Minegishi)

Hayato Yakumaru, 28, works at the Japan desk of Fortuna Dusseldorf, a club in the German Bundesliga 2. His main job is public relations for the Japanese market, but he also serves as an interpreter for Aoi Tanaka, a Japanese national team midfielder who joined the club last summer. He supports her by attending practices, games, meetings, and interviews.

Hayato is the second son of five siblings, and his parents are Hirohide Yakumaru and Hidemi Ishikawa, former members of the “Shibugakitai” and TV personalities. He has a strong respect for his parents, and when he talks about his father in particular, his eyes water and he says, “I get kind of sentimental.

Born into a glamorous entertainment family, how did he end up working behind the scenes supporting the Japanese national team?

Hayato, now 28, left for overseas 13 years ago upon graduating from junior high school. It all started another three years ago. One day, at a dinner party, a friend of my father’s made the following suggestion.

A friend of my father’s suggested, “I know someone in Spain, why don’t you go there to study soccer?

I was so frustrated.

Hayato was in the first year of junior high school at the time, and was spending all his time playing soccer for Yokogawa Musashino Junior Youth. He was then invited to go to Spain, the home of soccer. His father, Hirohide, also supported him, Hayato recalls.

An acquaintance of mine was drunk, so I just said, ‘I’ll go,’ but it was decided between my father and the acquaintance.

That summer, Hayato decided to go to Barcelona for a short-term study program for three months. He stayed with a host family in Barcelona, attended a Spanish language school, and participated in soccer practice at a club in the city. However, what she felt during this time was not fulfilling.

I was just so frustrated. The Spanish language was difficult, and I wondered why I couldn’t speak it when the other Japanese students at the language school could.

This frustration became the driving force behind his decision to pursue a career in soccer abroad. After graduating from junior high school, he attended high schools in Spain and England, where he learned Spanish and English. As a player, he was promoted to the B team of Sabadell, a Spanish second division team, in 2012. He retired after the ’18/’19 season with Wollongong Olympic FC in Australia.

In ’19, when he was looking for a job related to his favorite sport, soccer, he was offered an internship at his current position, and after working there for about a year, he was officially hired. It’s not easy to get a job related to soccer in a foreign country after giving up your career as a player.

In my case, I was fortunate to have a friend. In my case, I had a good relationship with people I knew, and I took care to learn the language in the countries I visited. I think that has led me to where I am today. When I was in high school in Barcelona, my friend said to me, “It’s ridiculous not to speak anything for fear of making mistakes,” so I just talked to people. I guess I was the sociable type, so I didn’t feel stressed about talking to people.

Hayato is now a quatro-lingual who speaks Japanese, English, German, and Western languages.

Why did he get so into soccer?

I really wonder why. I guess it was fun to win and lose together. …… When I was a kid, my father, who was very busy, would come to watch us play whenever our team participated in the Kanto Tournament. One time, he even came to Tochigi to watch us play, and I think my father came to love soccer. Because of soccer, I was able to build a good relationship with my father, and I was happy about that.

His low-pitched voice reveals his feelings, “People say I look just like my father,” he told me.

In the future, he hopes to help Japan through soccer. There is no doubt that there are many things he can give back from his long experience overseas.

When he talked about his memories of his grateful father, Hirohide, he had tears in his eyes.
Hayato Yakumaru: “Why I’ve lived my life through soccer despite being born into an entertainment family
Hayato Yakumaru: “Why I’ve lived my whole life playing soccer despite being born into an entertainment family.
  • Reporting and writing Yoshiko Ryokai

    Born in Saitama Prefecture in 1975. Graduated from the Department of History, Faculty of Letters, Japan Women's University, and started reporting on soccer in 2001, and became a writer after covering the 2003 World Youth Cup (now U-20 World Cup) in UAE. Has covered four World Cups and three Summer Olympics, and has lived in Dusseldorf, Germany since March 11, 2011.

  • Photography Shinji Minegishi

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