He’s fast, he’s skilled and though he’s outgrown reading manga we’ll still write one for him. Global FC midfielder and Healthway Agility Awardee of the United Football League (UFL) First Division Yu Hoshide’s story may not involve bionic powers or the Kamehameha but with adventures that hail from Tokyo to Trinidad and Tobago that involve short stunts with judo and a stolen freezer, this makes him a legit football hero with a hat. Ikuzo! (“Let’s go!”)
A Word with Yu
Yu Hoshide was born in Tokyo, was schooled in the traditional Japanese fashion and never really heard a Tagalog word until 2009. “Grabe!” as the present Yu would say.
Bringing bento for lunch, dabbling with the piano (“All my relatives from my dad’s side had to learn to play the piano” he tried to explain) and having kendo/judo classes as a kid, that’s pretty much how Yu-chan’s life passed by. The kendo classes were mandatory, and while Yu never got he chance to hit an actual person in real life, he made swooshing motions in the air to show us that, yes, he’s still got the flair. All right, Yu, we won’t take your iPhone.
Like most Japanese kids nowadays who want to be a professional athlete when they grow up, Yu decided to take that same path: “I’ve always wanted to be a professional football player!” He was five years old then and that ambition never faltered.
He was also five years old when he started attending the Takashi Madaira Soccer Club. Tokyo boasts of about a hundred (or was it a thousand?) soccer clubs, so we can just imagine the volume of activity and fanbase in our neighboring country. And that’s not considering baseball which is another popular sport in Japan.
“Why not baseball, Yu?”
“Noooo.. I really like football.”
“Good to know. So do we.” And we couldn’t imagine you in that baseball outfit.
In High School, Yu moved to the Mitsubishi Yowa Soccer Club, a much more prestigious organization for skilled players. We learned this because he “quantified” the application process. From a hundred to two hundred applicants they only select the chosen few for their team, and Yu was one of those. Sugoi!
College at the Meiji University brought him much closer to the football dream. Passing the football exam he became a full-fledged scholar, taking up Political Science. While he claims that Math and Japanese History were his favorite subjects, it’s rather obvious that Yu would ditch his books just to don a jersey.
Trinidad and Time-to-go
Yu’s been with quite a number of football clubs in various countries, it would be exhausting to go over each of them. With local highlights and exotic entertainment worth retelling, I’d say let’s run through this decade’s worth of stories in a jiffy.
2000–07, YKK AP (Kataller Toyama of the J.League): Yu played for several years in Japan before his quest to play for different football clubs in different countries or as I’d like to call it, his “world tour.”
2008 Harrisburg City Islanders (USA): Yu found the opportunity through the Internet and played for the club for one year.
2009 Northern Virginia Royals (USA): A friend of his introduced him to the club, but he only played for three months because Joe Public wanted to see him play and eventually signed him up.
2009–11 Joe Public (Trinidad and Tobago): His friend Fabien Lewis, who’s Trinidadian, helped him get into the club, which is one of the biggest clubs in the Caribbean and was owned by the former VP of FIFA. He played for Joe Public for one and half years.
2011 Grecia Stone (Ecuador): His Japanese friend back in junior high used to play here and recruited Yu. Don’t bother asking him for Spanish expressions and foodie experiences. He only played for one month.
2011 Sporting Club de Goa (India): The club was looking for a central midfielder, but Yu only played for one and a half months.
2011–present Last but not the least Global FC (Philippines)
Before Global FC, Yu has never been to the Philippines and knew nothing about the Philippine time, traffic, the wonders of Pasay road and the kindhearted street children—all of which introduced themselves to him one at a time. Still, he’s gotten used to the weather, the people and muttering “Hay nako” in the same Pinoy despairing tone seems so natural, it makes us wonder who was late for practice this time.
One thing that was far from despairing though was how Yu ended up with Global FC. Yes, the internet was once again an ally in his movement, but this time, he’s got YouTube to thank.
“They watched my game on YouTube then asked me to go to the Philippines,” narrated Yu.
Next thing he knew, he was part of the team, commissioned as Captain and living in Magallanes.
Why the Philippines? Is it the beaches, the politics or just our warmhearted citizens that made Yu leave India and its blessed curry?
“I wanted to move to an Asian country so that I will be closer to my parents. When the tsunami hit Japan I was in T&T and never learned of it because there was no Internet. At least in Asia it would be easier to travel and visit them,” explained Yu.
Oh and he admits that the curry in India doesn’t compare to Japan’s “ka-ri.”
Rock and Gol.
For those who don’t follow Yu Hoshide on Twitter and are unfamiliar with his chill pill, his favorite hangout is Starbucks—which branch, we’re not telling. However, if someone hollers “Tall Caramel Machiatto for Yuuuuuu!” then expect the ever zen-like Yu to get that rate googly-eyed look. Perhaps this is the only moment in his life that he gets that manga expression, thanks to that green sun. Kampai!
Trying to give an enterprising tip to our good friend Yu, here’s an excerpt of our conversation:
J.Anne: Yu, you’re always at Starbucks, they should make you their endorser.
Miji: Yeah!! So you could get a free venti Caramel Machiatto all the time.
Yu: What’s that word you used?
Y: What’s that mean?
J: Looks at Miji mouthing “help him!”
M: Endorse. You know, endorse. Like promote.
J: Like you tweet and tell people you’re at Starbucks so they give you free drinks in return.
Y: How do you spell that? (typing on his phone dictionary)
J: Or we can just skip to the next topic.
Y: Ah. Ahhhhhhh! (Finding the translation, understanding the translation or just checking someone’s Tweet?)
M: Hay nakoooo, you did get it, right?
Hay nako, Yu.
Speaking of endorsements, Yu is a master in this field since he does promote a Japanese brand (or is it Brazilian, heeeelp) of clothing named Gol., which is why we considered him the perfect ambassador of the Caramel Machiatto. Imagine Yu Hoshide, swift, sporty and savvy, the perfect guy to represent Gol. Even in his stint in the Philippines, Yu still carries the Gol image, which inspires that worldwide brand recognition from Global FC’s midfielder.
When not in his customary Global FC jersey, Yu parades around in his Gol. Shirt and/or cap. Aside from being a football superstar, we’ve got a fashion icon as well.
And now’s the time to say, “Ahhhh…” Grabe!
Yu and What Army
Yu lost his iPhone recently to a band of street kids who blatantly took it from him and ran off before Yu could tweet about it. Using judo was not a top of mind reaction in a place like Manila, and he certainly hadn’t thought of giving them a bicycle kick—so this experience, he says, ought to be charged as a donation. How kind of Yu to let this Manila initiation pass by easily.
But that’s not the highlight of his Manila stay.
“I’m renting this car and it’s brand new and color white. One day while I was driving, a girl just went in and told me her destination,” Yu narrated this hilarious story.
“I said, ‘no taxi!’ and she was surprised and sorry and just left,” he said with so much amusement. At least now Yu can consider an alternative business, but, of course, he’d have to consult Misagh Transportation Company first. We wouldn’t want Misagh to think Yu’s getting all cute or the red cards might start pouring from the bleachers.
A Piece of Yu
Despite this so-called Asian Invasion, Yu does miss home, particularly his family, friends and Japanese food.
While Sushi remains to be his all-time favorite food, yakiniku and banana cue rank next in his list. At least banana cue, a local dish, albeit being street food (Manang’s Special), has found a special spot in his discriminating palate.
What does not deserve special honors is the dreaded Filipino time, which Yu has the misfortune of coming across all the time.
“When people say training starts at 9 a.m., they should be there by 8 a.m. but here in the Philippines, people arrive at 9:30 a.m.!” Yu still in disbelief at how we Filipinos have a knack for delaying time.
As for Yu, 8 a.m. it is. Maybe this would give him ample time to finish that grande caramel machiatto or find the opportunity to revive his judo skills so that he can deliver killer scissor kicks on the pitch.
Yu names Jerry Barbaso and David Basa as his close friends. Befuddled by this choice, we asked the obvious (Is it because Jerry looks Japanese or is it because David is quiet like you?) but got no straight answer. Whatever it is, at least Yu’s found oniichans in the team to torment or tutor, whatever the case may be.
Yu claims that he can cook a mean okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), complete with the animated flipping gestures that is so Cooking Master Boy. Of course, we never got to verify that as well. But so long as we’ve not heard of recent kitchen fires, then at least we can say that, well, Yu’s a responsible cook.
Catch Yu Later
Among the Global FC players, Yu is certainly one of the seasoned players, having participated in clubs outside Asia and played in games all over the world.
“I’ve been in 10 or 20 countries, just to play football,” claims Yu.
He’s lived in other continents, and while he hasn’t mastered the local lingo (which would’ve been a lot of help trying to translate Angel Guirado’s speedy Spanish that only de Murga can catch up with) his exposure and experience definitely elevate him to the level of Yu-San. The younger players look up to him for his on-field wisdom while training coaches can rely on him for support and guidance.
Once could attest to Yu’s veteran playing skills with his graceful and well-thought-of touches and passes and, of course, his agility. In fact, during the awarding ceremony of this season’s UFL, Yu Hoshide was named the Healthway Agility Player of the season. Guess we’re not the only ones impressed by Yu’s on-site activity and swift and accurate delivery of beautiful passes.
With the depth of his experience, his movements appear as second nature, creating a sense of instinctive action. Hopefully he can pass on this acumen to the younger ones, especially as they start training for the UFL Cup in October.
May the Force be with Yu
Yu is not the only one to brag of an award for the 2011–2012 Season of the UFL. For those who have been living underground for the past few days or are just away from the football radar, Global FC has been hailed as the Champion for this season, besting other strong teams like first runner up Kaya FC and Loyola Meralco Sparks FC.
In the last match against Loyola Meralco Sparks FC last June 26 at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, the game ended with a draw and sealed the championship for Global FC—which already was leading in the points race. With fans energetic and the Global Force screaming their endless battle cheer, Global FC finally scored its year-long goal: To be the #1 team! Yu was named Healthway Agility Awardee, #14 Carlie de Murga was Most Valuable Player Awardee and Global FC also bagged the Fair Play Award.
Like we said, if we could perhaps add another award, it would be the Best Cheering Squad/Group—and hands down, we’d bestow the prize to the Global Force. Enthusiastic, battle ready, spontaneous, interactive and witty, their cheers have more impact than an LSS (last song syndrome).
If you happen to see Yu gallivanting around the malls or coffee shops, don’t think of bowing just to get his attention. Chances are passers by might think that you’re falling asleep on your toes. A whiff of coffee might help, or the old reliable, “Konnichiwa!” But remember, Yu-san’s the quiet type so blurting out “Kawaiii!!” will be met with a run. Instead, engage in sensible conversation and don’t fret, he’s got a dictionary at hand.
Follow Yu Hoshide on Twitter: @yuhoshide
Follow J.Anne Gonzales on Twitter: @LazyBlack_Cat
Follow Miji Gonzales on Twitter: @mijigonzales