Contributed by: Aaron Richard Friday, March 04 2005 @ 12:40 am ACDT
The Robert Walters scholarship for young Japanese players provides Japanese lads with a well rounded football education. In addition to playing a season with Box Hill North, the scholarship winner spends his time improving his English and studying for AFL qualifications in coaching and umpiring.
This year\'s winner Hiroyuki Shiba, quit his job to concentrate on footy, and has just arrived in Australia to push himself along even further. This report courtesy of Troy Beard. This year\'s scholarship winner is Hiroyuki Shiba, known to most Goannas only as Shiba - his last name. Shiba is a popular fellow who works at the the Clubhouse alongside Crazy Horse (Jun Oikawa, also of Senshu Uni). Shiba has played four years with Senshu University and played for Japan in his first international at the Arafura Cup (Darwin) in 2001. Since then he has been a regular representative of the Japan Samurais and his career includes the International Cup (Melbourne) 2002, two international friendly matches at the Optus Oval against NZ and two Narita Cup campaigns.
Shiba was recruited to footy when he arrived at Senshu University. Apparently, Yasu Tanaka (now a regular for the Goannas) was up to something quite unusual (details withheld) and this attracted Shiba\\\'s interest and it wasn\\\'t long before he was captivated by his new sport.
Shiba is a deserving winner of the scholarship. He has devoted a great deal of time and effort to footy. On graduation from Senshu University (2004) he entered the workforce and soon discovered that Japanese work traditions would prevent him playing footy. This is a familiar story, but unlike so many other Japanese players, Shiba made a huge committment to footy, quit his job and went back to work part time at the Clubhouse. Now, as scholarship winner, Shiba will head over to Melbourne to join Box Hill North at the beginning of the VAFA season. With four months footy in the VAFA under his belt, Shiba will be hardened and ready to represent his country again in the 2005 International Cup in August.
Shiba is to be admired for daring to take a different approach. I hope his success will encourage other to follow him.
Shiba is a very likable person and I am sure he will be as popular at Box Hill North as he is in Japan.