August 24th, 2020Hiroshi enjoying soccer again and winning
He continued playing until he was 18 when he had the chance to try out for Japan’s newly formed pro league. But Hiroshi also realised he would need a career to fall back on and so instead headed to college to study teaching for four years.
He came out qualified and also realised that his passion for soccer had diminished a little, with every game’s sole objective to win. “I had a bit of a loss of joy for soccer and I thought that it was going to be just my hobby from now on.”
He later met his wife Meaghan Quinsee and they returned to Australia 17 years ago. Living in Melbourne, Hiroshi said he didn’t see one soccer match and came to the conclusion that the game was not played in Australia.
But the couple had been spending some time in Daylesford and had fallen in love with the country life. “I like the countryside for living and after being in Tokyo I had more than enough of city life. At the time we were in publishing but the financial crash of 2008 left us with nothing, so we decided to restart in Daylesford and make the commitment to move. That was 10 years ago.”
The move also led Hiroshi to the Daylesford Soccer Club, which at the time, had fewer members and was struggling a bit to survive.
“For some reason the club was small and there were not a lot of players. But Ivan (Carter) and some other people organised the games and within a couple of years we got our soccer back. Now I feel a little bit of satisfaction for bringing soccer back to this town. Daylesford has very nice quality soccer which is good to watch and play. I find it very interesting and exciting. And I can enjoy soccer again.”
Hiroshi, who coaches the Under 9s, including his son Finn, said the club also had one of the largest group of junior players in Victoria. “It is fun to coach them although the hardest part is getting them focused. But it is very satisfying because at that age kids improve surprisingly quickly.”
Of course, COVID-19 closed down the season which Hiroshi says was to be expected but was very disappointing for the youngsters. “But hopefully we can continue next year. It’s very exciting.”
Meanwhile, Hiroshi and Meaghan’s latest business venture, creating unique visits to Japan, has also been impacted by the pandemic but they are taking it in their stride. Hiroshi, like so many others, has pivoted and is starting to offer Japanese language lessons – along with Japanese cooking lessons like one pot dishes. Oishii so!
Words: Donna Kelly
DAYLESFORD and Hepburn United Soccer Club had a stellar 2019 season, with junior teams in grand finals and the Division 1 seniors winning the league and cup double for the first time in nearly 20 years. This was some achievement for a club that didn’t have a team in Division 1 in 2018, and struggled with numbers and youth.
The club and players have had time to reflect on this rare achievement, and came to the realisation that a strong squad comes from leadership and consistency. There were none more consistent and effective than Daylesford’s captain, and fan favourite, Hiroshi Masuda.
Hiroshi led by example, crunching tackles all season and sweeping up in midfield and creating chances for the strikers. He scored goals and set up goals and prevented goals, but also gave the youthful squad much direction and leadership. Admiration for Hiroshi only grew throughout the season, he somehow managed to lift for the big games every time, and was in the best players most weeks.
Daylesford were blessed with Masuda’s talent over the past decade, but it wasn’t until 2019 that he was surrounded with players in his team of similar talent. This lifted his presence and allowed him to teach a possession-style football to the youth and play champagne football.
Masuda moved to Daylesford over a decade ago, and has grown in stature around the club, as a junior coach and top player. His strong soccer background trumps anyone in the Ballarat & District Soccer Association league, having represented Japan as a junior player. His talents are something to see, and despite being in his mid-40s, he scored the second most league votes for Daylesford.
Daylesford were also blessed with one of the greatest coaches the league has ever seen, Dragi Koleski. Koleski’s relationship with Masuda has grown close over the decade, with two soccer masterminds. Koleski, a superb player also, found the perfect role for Masuda in defensive midfield, and a winning combination. Koleski coached to perfection in the nail-biting final series, coming from behind in the last three games to win each in thrilling fashion.
The cup final echoed Masuda’s popularity and respect in the Ballarat League, with other clubs chanting “Hiroshi” and wearing his facemasks as support.
Masuda will be remembered as one of the greats for his 2019 heroics and captaincy by fans and players alike, as will Koleski in his coaching role. It is hoped both will play on and enjoy a bright 2020.
Words: Ivan Carter Image: Kyle Barnes