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How Japanese Soccer Players Find Success in SIMA

By SIMA, 02/25/20, 8:00AM EST


The Soccer Institute at Montverde Academy is home to 30 of the over 90 nationalities represented on campus by our student body. Of this diverse community, four SIMA student-athletes represent Japan and came to the Academy with big dreams of playing at the next level.

Brothers Haya and Misei Yoshizawa both hail from Tokyo, Japan and started studying and training at Montverde Academy at the beginning of their ninth-grade years. Haya, a current junior, will be entering the high stakes of the college application process soon with the goal of making it to the next level of collegiate soccer. His dreams are not only shared by younger brother Misei but also fellow Tokyo natives Santa Ihara and Soshun Shigaki.

Santa Ihara is a senior at Montverde Academy and has trained in the SIMA program since his freshman year. Working his way up to the top-level teams in the Academy, Santa is looking at offers from top colleges across the United States. Elite soccer brought Santa to the Montverde Academy campus but the challenging academics with honors and Advanced Placement (AP) classes serve as another bridge to college with academic scholarship opportunities. Throughout his four years at MVA, Santa has made the honor roll list every academic quarter.

Course curriculums at MVA also provide international students with effective English as a Second Language (ESL) classes which help students learn English and was a goal for all four of our Japanese student-athletes.

Soshun Shigaki, one of the less than 10 post-graduates in the SIMA program, has come to Montverde Academy this academic year to have another shot at collegiate soccer. This opportunity to move away from home in pursuit of his dreams, has taught him many lessons on independence, time management, and the time it takes to improve your craft.

The three other Japanese SIMA student-athletes are also boarding students and are learning the same lessons as Soshun while using the diversity on campus to expand their ideas on cultural differences that span the globe. SIMA, for these four student-athletes, has been a chance to improve their English, study academics at a high level, and compete in one of the most challenging but rewarding environments in the country.

Some of the most rewarding experiences in the SIMA program as noted by all four Japanese student-athletes was the annual Montverde Academy Soccer Tournament (MAST) and SIMA College Showcase. Both are opportunities to prove your talent in front of nearly 100 college coaches and professional scouts. These moments on the field together facing tough international competition, has been branded in their memory as moments worth training for.

from left to right: Haya Yoshizawa, Santa Ihara, Soshun Shigaki, Misei Yoshizawa