Name: Takashi Watanabe
With the 2017 Razak Cup still ongoing, we checked in one of the youngest players in the squad, 17-year-old Takashi Watanabe. The freshman from Republic Polytechnic recently represented our nation in the U18 Thunderbolts Cup in September. With 7 years of hockey playing experience under his belt, Takashi has emerged as a promising junior athlete that has the potential to make it to the senior national pool. A quick study and skilful player, it is no wonder that he is already playing in the Premier League for Jansenites who finished runners-up in the National Hockey League 1.
Despite not qualifying from the group stages in the Thunderbolts Cup, the team goal of “high intensity play, competitive match experience and team building” was certainly met by the U18 boys. On the personal front, Takashi sought to achieve the same outcomes regardless of result. “My personal goal for every game as a defender is to not let players dribble past me. This tournament is no different.” Asked how he felt going into the Razak Cup, Takashi responded eagerly: “Excited, is an understatement! I am ready to prove to everyone, including myself, that I can represent Singapore on the senior international stage. But the pressure is definitely there as the coaches have set high expectations for the team.”
Going from age-group tournaments to senior tournaments can be a big jump for many athletes. Takashi is no different. “There are differences between U18 Thunderbolts Cup and the Razak Cup: the training, team, individual goals, teams participating. Everything is different. As this is no longer an age-group tournament, I will be up against much more experienced players and even some current & former national players.” Despite this, Takashi is determined to put in at least the same level of performance he displayed in the game he considers one of his best –against Bukit Jalil Sports School in the U18 Thunderbolts Cup 2017. “I felt that it was my best game as I adapted well to the pressure and made good decisions both on and off the ball.”
“My main weakness is definitely my mentality. Being one of the youngest players in the team also pushes me to my limits in every training. But, we (junior boys) have to teach ourselves not to crumble under the pressure given by the seniors and coaches. The only way for us to improve is to continuously be placed outside of our comfort zones,” said the Sports and Exercise Sciences student. Regardless of the results or performances, Takashi believes in learning and becoming better after every game. The importance of the Razak Cup is greater to the junior athletes as Takashi says: “It shows everyone that even as a young team, we can go far. It is also another avenue for the younger players to prove to the coaches that they have what it takes to play at the senior level.”
Show your support as Takashi and our Men take part in the 55th Men’s TNB Tun Abdul Razak Cup 2017, happening from 5th – 15th November 2017. Singapore is one of the 3 foreign teams (Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore) fighting for the Division 2 title with 6 other Malaysian teams. Our Men’s next match is against Kedah on 7th November at 6pm. Stay on our website and social media channels for more information.