Former Japanese footballer and I-League star Ryuji Sueoka fixes boots for Indian kids
Former Japanese footballer, Ryuji Sueoka who has played top flight football in countries like Japan, Singapore, Thailand and India is set to create an example in the world of football.
The 36-year-old who had started his professional football career with Albirex Niigata in the J. League has played for a number of big clubs in India like Mohun Bagan, Salgaocar, Dempo, East Bengal and Pune FC since 2009.
Born on 22nd March 1979, the 5 feet 7 inches tall footballer has recently come into the news for one of the most extraordinary stories in world football.
Sueoka has undergone a cobbling course in Japan and is now set to fix football boots in his home country only to send them over to India where a lot of young and promising footballers actually need them.
“When I used to drive through the towns in India and stopped at the traffic lights, there were beggars asking for money. I thought to myself, ‘What should I be doing?’ This isn’t something you see or experience in Japan,” he said in an interview.
During his five-year-stint in India, he witnessed a number of cobblers who would fix shoes on the streets. According to Sueoka, “When my football shoes needed repairing I would take them to the cobblers because their skills were brilliant. I was really impressed by them.”
“Then I wondered if I could bring this idea and use it in Japan and that’s how it started,” the Japanese added.
On his return to Japan, the 34-year-old not only attended a cobbling school but also voluntarily worked in a few cobbler shops in order to master the art of repairing old football boots.
Sueoka has played 127 domestic matches for various clubs in a number of Asian countries scoring a total of 42 goals throughout the course of his career and was voted to be the best player in the 2011-12 season of the I-League.