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Michito Sakaki (born 19 May 1983), is an Australian rules football player from Japanmarker.

Michito has achieved recognition as currently being one of the best and most successful players to learn and play the game outside of Australia.

Sakaki was originally a talented university soccer player at Waseda Universitymarker. He was spotted playing soccer by an expatriate Australian, one of the members of the Tokyo Goannas, who convinced him to try Aussie Rules as well. Sakaki took quickly to Australian Football and began playing for the university's Australian Rules club, proving good enough to be selected in the national side.

Michito represented the Samurai, the Japanese national Australian Rules team, captaining the side in the Australian Football International Cups in both 2002 and 2005. In 2005, he was awarded with the best and fairest player for Japan in the competition.

A small midfielder/rover (165 cm, 68 kg), Michito impressed many at the tournament with his courageous player and ball winning ability. In a game against Great Britainmarker, he virtually set up all his teams goals.

Sasaki, along with teammate Tsuyoshi Kase was later invited to join the Australian Football League/Australian Institute of Sportmarker academy camp in Canberramarker.

In a meteoric rise, late in 2005 Michito was invited, along with Tsuyoshi Kase to train with the AFL club Essendon Football Club by coach Kevin Sheedy.

In January 2006, Sakaki played in an intra-club practice game for Essendon, amassing an impressive 13 possessions, including 8 kicks, 5 handballs and 2 marks.

On February 10, 2006 it was reported that both Sakaki and Kase would be included on the Victorian Football League club that feeds the Essendon Bombers, the Bendigo Bombers, becoming the first overseas players to do so.

In late February, Sakaki was named in the Essendon side to play in a 16-a-side practice match against the Sydney Swans in an exhibition match at North Sydney Ovalmarker on 3 March in front of 9,654 spectators. Although the match is not an official AFL match, Sakaki became the first non-Irish international and player to learn the game overseas to play at AFL level. Michito announced his desire to play at the highest level and his intention to move to Australia to further his development.

Shortly after the announcement of the North Sydney practice match, a bidding war between amateur club St Bernards and the Wodonga Raiders ended up with Sakaki being signed by the Raiders and will play in the Ovens & Murray Football League, considered the strongest country league in Australia.

Michito captained the Samarai during the 2008 International Cup and was once again named a member of the All-International (world) team.

See also



References

  1. Anyone know Japanese for holding the ball? - Sport - theage.com.au
  2. World Footy News - Japan produces first VFL players as bright future predicted for the JAFL
  3. Recreation and Sports Australian Football Resources - Locations


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