November 6, 2019
If you have been to a men’s soccer game this year, you may have heard the players talking to one another on the pitch. If you listen closely, you realize that they are not speaking English. In fact, head coach Dr. Eric Johnson has enticed players from all over the world, including Canada, Spain, England and even Japan.
Daisuke Otsuka is a first-year player for Western after transferring from Tyler Junior College. He is the only player from Japan on the team and is trying to make his mark. Otsuka has had no problem doing just that since he has been playing since he was about three feet tall.
“When I started watching my dad’s film when I was young, I thought it was really cool and I wanted to be like him, you know, he gave me my motivation,” Otsuka said, who takes pride in how hard his dad tried to play at the professional level. Otsuka wishes to play professionally, but he was torn between education and the sport.
“When I graduated high school, I wanted to get out of Japan… people said I should go to Europe to try and play professional, but I would have to choose to play soccer or go to college, but in the U.S. there is opportunity to play soccer and study to get my master’s or bachelor’s which is a good second option if I don’t get to play professional.” Otsuka said.
The hardest part to Otsuka making the transition, one word: language. “In Japan I didn’t speak any English,” Otsuka said. He had time to practice his English before coming to Western after playing at Tyler Junior College. “Tyler is not a big city just like Macomb, I’m still young, but right now I need to focus on soccer and this environment suits me,” Otsuka said about his transition here.
Otsuka made the move from Tyler to Macomb over the summer.
“When me and E.J. started talking about the program, I was very interested and started thinking ‘I want to play here’ I just love the program.” Otsuka said.
Now the soccer team is 4-12-1 and has a chance to become The Summit League champions on Saturday.
“It’s not easy to make a national tournament, but we have a chance if we work harder than any other team,” said Otsuka. “That’s the only way to be successful this season.”
After dropping the first 11 matches, the team has made a dramatic turnaround to set themselves up in a great position in postseason play.
Otsuka is just one of many international players that have made a dramatic impact on the team this year. They play Oral Roberts on Saturday for The Summit League crown.