By Beth Newman
Mt Gravatt’s Sean Yoshiura hopes he can be a role model for other Japanese-born footballers.
Yoshiura, who was the first Japanese AFL-listed player, is studying a Masters in Sport Science, but ultimately aims to set up an AFL academy to help develop Japanese players.
“My ultimate goal is to establish a Japanese- AFL sporting academy try and get the talent from across Asia and see if I can give them the opportunity and help them get scouted,” he said.
“I’d love to be able to do that.
“I’ve been there as a player and I understand what players require in terms of the best they can get out of themselves or potentially get drafted.”
Yoshiura said there was plenty of untapped talent overseas that could be attracted to Australian football.
“If you look at the NFL or NBA model (of recruiting, it’s not necessarily about expanding the sport but rather finding potential talent and it’s a matter of nurturing it to be the best they can be.”
After moving to Australia at the age of seven, it was a lucky channel surfing moment that brought him into footy, and set him on track to be somewhat of a trailblazer in the sport.
“I was just flicking channels on TV and then a game of AFL popped up and I remember it was Justin Leppitsch kicking a footy and then the next couple of days, I found out there was a footy ground near my house and I started playing.”
Yoshiura, who was also an international cross country runner at school, moved over to the Kenmroe Bears in U16 footy, before switching to Mt Gravatt and winning an U18 premiership with the Vultures in 2008.
Yoshiura’s interest in international talent, aside form his own background, was inspired by former Mt Gravatt coach, David Lake’s work with AFL Papua New Guinea and the success of many of those players in the AFL.
“With the amount of players that got drafted from that, it shows the success you can have if you provide them with the right amount of help.”
While he’s only 21, Yoshiura is one of the elder statesmen at the Mt Gravatt Vultures and said he was relishing the chance to help out his younger teammates.
“With such a young group, everyone’s enthusiastic and quite tight knit,” he said.
“My biggest focus is to help the club get and help some of those younger guys.
“If I can have any influential role in their football careers, then it’s a big tick.”
Yoshiura said he hoped to follow in the footsteps of former Mt Gravatt players Rory Lake and Gareth Dosser, who influenced him greatly early in his football career.
“The way they mentored me and the other players around the team, it’s quite inspirational and something I always looked up to,” he said.
“That’s the type of role I’d love to try and fill, with such a talented bunch of guys coming through.”