Germany: Japanese college/XLeague WR Yusuke Noma signs with Darmstadt Diamonds/日本大学出身、Xリーグ選手のWR野間雄介はGFLのDarmstadt Diamondsと契約しました

Japanese wide receiver Yusuke Noma has signed to play for the Darmstadt Diamonds in the GFL2, Germany’s second division.

The 5’9″, 180 lb native of Tokyo, Japan played high school football in Japan and then went on to be a standout receiver for the Nihon University Phoenix. After college, Yusuke took to the XLeague (professional league in Japan) where he played three seasons with the Meiji Yasuda Penta Ocean Pirates and Zero Fighters AFC from 2013-2016. Then he took his talents to the US where he played two seasons in the NEFL with the Somerville Rampage in 2016 and Mass Warriors in 2017. The very last stop in his career was Australia, where he played for the Griffith Gridiron Club for the 2018 season.

Darmstadt head coach Andreas Hock:

“Yusuke reached out to us weeks ago and so we looked at his numbers and film. It didn’t take us long to recognize the benefits of having him with us for the 2019 season because he can help us in so many ways with experience as a WR, DB and KR.”

American Football International asked Noma about playing in different countries.

 AFI: What made you want to play in Europe and Germany? ヨーロッパとドイツでプレーしたい理由は何ですか?

Noma: There was NFL Europe several years ago, few ex-NFL players remaining there. And many good players from around the world went to Europe. I had the desire to take up the challenge to play there and show my best performance in a higher environment.ドイツやヨーロッパには数年前までNFLヨーロッパがあり解体された現在ももとNFL選手や、世界各国からプレーヤーが集まっています。

AFI: You have played in major college football in Japan and in the XLeague. You have also played semi-pro football in the United States and then in Australia. Can you tell us the differences? あなたは日本の大学およびXLeagueでプレーしました。あなたはアメリカで、そしてオーストラリアでもセミプロフットボールをしました。違いを教えてください。

Noma: In the United States, there is an excellent environment to play football. A semi-pro team can use a field in high school, college and public field is available at a cheaper cost. The NEFL does not have big sponsors but they keep more than 60 teams with better operation. In United states they play Arena Football in the spring season, semi-pro in summer to early fall season, flag football in the winter season, so I can play throughout the year. まず、資金面から見てアメリカはセミプロでもとてもお金のかかからないリーグです。
また大きなスポンサーなどがなくてもNEFL(New England football league)のように3ディビジョン構成で60チーム程あっても運営はうまくいっています。

On the other hand, we have very limited environment to play football in Japan. For example, if a semi-pro team wants to play in the X-League Div-1, they have to pay JPY10,000,000 annually to the National Football Association (Japan). Also, they have to spend more money to keep a practice field and so on. It means they have to have sponsors, and this is a major difficulty. I can say football is still minor in Japan.


In Australia, they use a rugby field to play on. This is much better environment than in Japan, and the cost is lower, too. There are no high school and college team, then younger student who like to play Football need to enter to Under 19 Semi-Pro team. It is good to join to play with higher skills player. Sometimes college sponsored it.


AFI: Having played in other countries as well as Japan, how do you anticipate football in Germany?日本だけでなく他の国でプレーしたことがありますが、ドイツではどのようにアメリカンフットボールを予想しますか。

Noma: It looks like smaller Japanese players have a disadvantage compared to bigger American and German guys. But I can believe I have enough skills and football smarts to play with them to make the best result in Germany.
A. 体の小さい日本人にとって体のでかいアメリカ人やドイツ人と戦う事は一見不利にも感じます。しかし、日本人の得意な俊敏さや正確なルートどりをすれば勝機は大いにあります。

AFI: You are a football nomad, traveling all over the world. What does your family think?4.あなたはアメリカンフットボールで世界中を旅しています。あなたの家族はどう思いますか?

Noma: My grandparent are concerned about that I play anywhere in the world. But they push me to take on the better challenge. I always appreciate and respect them and talk to them about what I am doing whenever I get a chance.
Yes, Football is a dangerous game, but also a life without football is no life for me


AFI: : Have you got any new favorite foods?新しい好きな食べ物はありますか?

Noma: I have tasted Mexican food in the United States, meat pie in Australia, but I believe Sushi is the best food in the world!


AFI: What are the cultural differences you have experienced so far?6.これまでに経験した文化の違いは何ですか?

Noma: In Japan, we use respect when talking to the coach. But in  the United States and Australia, I can talk with them frankly and feel much closer. When I have a team practice I always shake hands with each teammate, it was difficult to remember everybody : ) Handshakes and hugs are a better culture than Japanese bow I guess. Pregame routine was quite exciting in the United States. It is emotional, motivational, and encouraging when going into a tough game. I never feel such a thing in Japan.


I’m going to my fourth country to play football. I am always impressed when I meet better players and relevant people. Different culture, sense of humor, food, and of course playing football. I can enjoy myself anywhere. I am proud ^that I have so many teammates around the world.


Feature image photo: Matsubayashi Ken


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