by Stuart Larman
Have you ever wondered what most professional athletes do when they retire? Many people never think about it but it’s a serious question that needs to be asked. For a lot of athletes the options are limited but some are able to use their previous status to provide future income. This is certainly the case for Tsutomu Nishino.
A professional soccer player with J. League giants Urawa Reds for nine seasons, Nishino went on to study for an MBA in soccer business in Liverpool to prolong his career in the industry. While studying, various opportunities arose, the most prominent of which was recently launched in Japan.
Socatots is a football development program for children aged one to five years old that teaches coordination, ball control and other skills in a wildly fun environment. Currently with three locations in Minato and Meguro wards, the program will expand within these wards and beyond in 2007.
Socatots started in the United Kingdom and has gradually spread around the world, with schools as spread out as Brazil, Australia and now Japan. When Nishino first visited the main school in Garforth, Yorkshire two years ago, he was so impressed by how much fun the toddlers were having while learning that it became his long-term goal to introduce the program to Japan. “It was so impressive. Something I had never seen in Japan but I knew it would be popular with young parents in Japan. The kids were learning basic football skills in such a fun way that I could see how over the years they would develop advanced skills naturally,” Nishino recalls.
At the time, Nishino was a parent of three year old twin boys (there has since been a female addition to the Nishino family), only one of whom was looking like following in his fathers footsteps. And this was another factor that appealed to him, he explain, “one of my sons was interested in football but the other wasn’t. I could see that through Socatots both of them could do the same activity together but still focus on each individual interest.”