BC Rangers midfielder Yumemi Kanda became the team’s most dazzling player after joining mid-season last year. Having regrets in the FA Cup final and AFC Champions League qualifiers, he is determined to win the championship for Rangers this season: “Last year’s FA Cup final defeat to Kitchee was very disappointing. Although we lost against Kitchee again this season, I feel that there is something to be gained. With all the growth and accumulation, I look forward to making even more progress in the future.”
Kanda was born in Sapporo, the capital of Hokkaido. When she was a child, she was inspired by her father who also loved football and started to play football and participated in the elementary school football team. When he was in primary five, he went to the famous local professional team Consadole Sapporo to try out.
“I didn’t want to go because my school team was not a strong team in Hokkaido, and I was worried that there wouldn’t be many opportunities to play after joining, so I wanted to go with some strength. It was a lower team. But my father still asked me to give it a try first, and I was successfully selected in the end.”
Sapporo is a large city, and the team’s training base is far from home. The team has 4-5 practice sessions every week, Kanda has to take a bus, then transfer to a train, and then transfer to another bus to get to the training ground. It takes an hour each way. But Kanda gradually showed his football skills in the team, and began to travel with Sapporo to compete across the country. In junior high school, he was selected for the Japanese youth team for three consecutive years. After graduating from high school, the team decided to sign Kanda’s first professional contract.
“I am 70% sure that I can become a professional player, but I was still very excited when I received the notice! In Japan, the J League has a relatively complete organization and the salary is very reasonable, but I am also worried about my life after retirement, and my family members are worried about it. I suggested that I go to college first, but at that time I was very determined to become a professional player, so I chose to become a professional player immediately after graduating from high school.”
In 2014, Kanda was loaned to J3 team SC Sagamihara. During the rest of his time in Sapporo, he had few opportunities to play. Although the team won the J2 championship in 2016, Kanda was not renewed by the team and missed out on promotion to J1. Opportunity. At this time, the J2 team Ehime FC waved to him: “This is the first time that I have officially left my hometown to live outside. Compared with the cold weather in Hokkaido, Ehime is a hotter place. It was very hard at the beginning, but I also felt I am very grateful to Ehime FC and the neighbors for their enthusiastic care.”
While playing for Ehime, Kanda was trusted by supervisor Shuichi Mase and got many playing opportunities. However, due to the team’s poor performance, the team fired Mase in May 2018 and promoted U18 supervisor Kenta Kawai to coach. Kanda’s playing opportunities gradually decreased. Finally, he was fired by the team again in 2019.
The COVID epidemic in 2020 caused many games to be suspended. Kanda, who was not recruited by any team, once worked as a delivery boy to make a living. During this period, he played for the Kanto Regional League team Tokyo 23. At the end of the year, he went to the J3 team Yokohama YSSC to try out, and finally got another contract. However, he was plagued by injuries during his playing period, and Kanda did not have many opportunities to play. In the end, the team fired him again.
“I played football hoping to participate in high-level competitions. I was already 27 years old at the time, but even the J3 team couldn’t accept me. This goal was already difficult to achieve, so I thought about retiring. I was more confused than frustrated. Right! Football is my only skill, and I don’t have many choices in life, so I came up with the idea of playing football overseas.”
Wandering to Hong Kong
At that time, Hong Kong player Au Yeung Yiu Chung was still playing for YSSC. Au Yeung introduced Kanda to BC Rangers director Philip Lee. Soon BC Rangers made an offer to Kanda’s agency: “I never thought there would be an invitation from a team so soon. So I decided to come to Hong Kong.”
“When I was young, I was afraid of many unknown things. But after I joined the Sapporo Youth Team, I often traveled to competitions across the country. I gradually overcame the difficulty of unknown things. Until now, I have been developing my career abroad with this mentality.”
The BC Rangers had average results in the first half of the season. In the first Sapling Cup game against Kitchee after Kanda joined, he came on as a substitute in the second half. He successfully defeated Kitchee goalkeeper Wang Zhenpeng with two free throws and helped the team defeat Kitchee. His performance was a blockbuster. . In the next game, he became the main player of BC Rangers and was elected as the best player of the month in the first month after joining. In the 10 Priemier League games that Kanda participated in, he achieved 7 wins, 1 loss and 2 losses, and also helped the team reach the FA Cup finals. In the end, the BC Rangers finished third in the league and qualified for the AFC Champions League qualifiers.
“It’s great to have the experience of playing football in Japan. I saw the differences between Hong Kong players and came to Hong Kong hoping to help my teammates. There are many players in Japan who have brains and skills, so even if they have these ideas, They are not enough to become one’s own weapons, but these experiences will be very useful in Hong Kong.”
After the contract ended at the end of the season, his teammates said that Kanda might be selected for the best eleven. Kanda deliberately stayed for one more week, but in the end he was not included. In any case, Kanda’s dazzling performance this season has brought him many supporters in Hong Kong and attracted transfer invitations from Indonesian clubs.
“Actually, the conditions proposed by the other party are very similar to those in Hong Kong, but since I have only experienced half a season in the Hong Kong League, I want to spend more time staying here. I want to pursue progress, and the opportunity to play is the most important. I feel that I will stay in the league. The team has constant opportunities to play, so we declined invitations from other teams.”
Impressions of Hong Kong
Kanda likes Hong Kong’s convenient transportation and friendly citizens. It is also a big city like his hometown of Sapporo, and the pace of life is very similar. In addition to training and competition, I also take the opportunity to learn different knowledge such as business management and English. On the court, he admires Lo Kwan Yee and Lam Ka Wai very much and thinks they are very smart and skilled players.
“I like Fat Gor (Lam Hin Ting) very much. If his mentality can be improved and he can focus more on his football career, he has the ability to gain a foothold in the Japanese league. I have told him personally that I am also looking forward to his performance. , to share with him like this. In addition, Chiu Ching Yu, Lung Tze Hin, and Chan Yiu Jo are all young players with great potential.”
“I want to speak out about this because I want Hong Kong football to develop better. Many Hong Kong players may not give their best in practice or games, but players in Japan must give 100%. I have experienced the New Year myself. When you are young, you may not be able to cope with a lot of mental struggles, so I hope I can pass on these messages and experiences to young players.”
The above example occurred when the team lost 1:4 to Hai Phong FC in the AFC Champions League qualifiers. Kanda was very angry after the game: “We were clearly behind, but the players didn’t seem to move much. Even though we lost, many fans came to support us. We, we all have to play until the end for the fans and I’m angry with the players who didn’t do that.”
Special thanks to the Japanese translation @irislamwy_
|Name||神田夢実 Yumemi Kanda|
|Pro team||Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo（2013-16）|
YSCC Yokohama （2021-22）
|Agent||SARCLE CO. LTD.|