Appearing on the latest episode of the Total Waterpolo Podcast is the leading member of the Japanese national team, Yusuke Inaba.
On this insightful and rare episode with the Japanese star, Yusuke discusses the state of water polo in Japan, and why it was important for him to continue his development in Europe:
“In Japan, there are two championships in the year only twice a year for five days, so it’s totally different from Europe. There isn’t a professional team. Everybody is an amateur, and everybody has a job, and after work, they train. I wanted to play more games, so I left Japan and played in Europe.”
And Inaba did leave for Europe, and after time in Montenegro and Romania, is now currently playing for Trieste. “Italy has one of the best championships in the world,” he said. “I am learning every game. I am still growing up in this way.”
A highlight of the 23-year-old’s short career was playing in the home Olympic games in Tokyo. The Japan International very quickly realised that the stakes were higher for this particular tournament. “It was my first Olympic experience, and it was totally different from another competition,” he said. When I saw the other players from Europe and America, their eyes were almost like animals, it’s like they must be champions.”
The Olympics didn’t entirely go according to plan for the young Japanese star, as he admits during the podcast episode that the occasion got the better of him. “When I played, there was a lot of pressure, and I got nervous. I couldn’t play well, in my opinion, at the Olympic Games.”
While Inaba and his teammates felt the pressure in Tokyo, they still made history, securing their nation’s first Olympic win in over 32 years against South Africa. While that was their only win, they impressed despite narrow defeats to the United States (15-13) and a 10-9 defeat to the eventual silver medalists, Greece. Those defeats are no consolation to Inaba, though:
“For me, the most important thing is to win. Even if we played well or were amazing, we would never win against big teams like Greece, Hungary, Italy, or some other big team. We must improve something more. Japanese water polo is amazing, it’s played in a totally different way, but we need something more from Europe. We must stay together for more time. Right now, eight players are playing outside of Japan, so it’s difficult to train together.”
As always on the podcast, we get to know our guest, and hear about their hobbies outside the pool. The Japanese star discussed Sushi, things to do in Tokyo, and his role model, Michael Jordan. “I want to be like him” Inaba declared, “but not for basketball, but for water polo!”
Listen to our episode with Yusuke now! All the episodes of the Total Waterpolo Podcast are available on all major Podcast streaming services, such as Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube. Don’t forget to head over to www.wearwaterpolo.com and use our discount code ‘PODCAST10’ for 10% off your next order!