Why did Zahra Muzdalifah, a very popular female footballer in her home country of Indonesia with 900,000 followers on Instagram, come to Japan and play in the WE League? (4ページ目)

  • text by Hasegawa Masaharu
  • photo by Setsuda Hiroyuki

On the Cerezo Osaka website, Zahra's motto is "Never give up on something that I always wanted in life". Despite losing her playing environment twice before, Zahra arrived in Japan with the support of those around her and a desire to continue playing the football she loves. 35 years after Ricky Yacobi arrived in Japan, she became the first Indonesian woman ever to play in any professional football league in Japan.

"Before I came, I didn't know anything about Japanese football. I was shocked when I saw Japanese football for the first time when I came to Osaka. The basic way of thinking is completely different. I have the impression that Japan sticks to the basics and plays football efficiently. I don't hold the ball for long, pass the ball around quickly, pay attention to the quality of the pass, think about what's next before I get the ball, and move and control the ball. The mentality of Japanese football could lead the team to play better. That's what attracted me.

"Division 5 in England is not so different from Indonesia in the way it is played, I think it is more individual. It relies on physicality, so I did a lot of strength training. They wanted me to hold the ball up for long, that's a big difference from Japan."

After two weeks of training at Cerezo, Zahra knew that she would improve if she continued to train here. At the same time, the club offered her a trial opportunity for another three months. Then the pacey striker started training there in earnest and scored goals in practice matches, and in July this year, she successfully became a member of Cerezo Osaka.

"When I was a child I came to Japan once on family holidays. It was the first time I came to a cold country, so I felt the difference in seasons there for the first time. Also, I got lost in Disneyland. And I thought it was a beautiful country. But I was also very young, so I only have a few memories of Disneyland and Mount Fuji.

"So when I decided to go to Japan this time, I was a bit worried because I was going to a new world and a country with a completely different language. However, my personality is such that if I think about it too much, I start worrying more, so I stopped thinking about it. All my Japanese friends in Indonesia were polite and kind, and that impression didn't change when I started to live here. Let's challenge without overthinking! This is my mindset and it is still unchanged in me"

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