After the team's
participation in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Japan Volleyball Association
took quick measures to build a new squad aiming at reaching and being
successful at the 2012 London Olympics.
Masayoshi Manabe, who heads
the Japan champion Hisamitsu Springs, has been appointed as new head coach of
the Japanese Women's National Team, taking over the position from Shoichi
Yanagimoto led the team
since February 2003 and guided Japan to two Olympics: Athens 2004 and Beijing
Manabe started with the
team in April 2009 and will remain until 2012.
Manabe formed his new squad
immediately after the V. League, Japan's premier league.
He invited fewer than
thirty players to the inaugural training camp. The roster comprised youngsters
and veterans alike, including seven Olympians such as Yoshie Takeshita, top
setter and former captain, Yuko Sano, top libero, Megumi Kurihara, Saori Kimura
and new captain Erika Araki.
Japan has been bringing its
young players along since May at international competitions such as the
Montreux Volley Masters (Switzerland), the Torino International Tournament
(Italy) and the International Tournament for the Cup of the First President of Russia
Boris Yeltsin (Russia). With such experience and the support of the older
players, it is hoped the newcomers to the squad will be able to express
themselves freely on court without worrying about making errors.
Japan reached the Final Six
of the 2009 World Grand Prix and most recently won bronze at the 2009 Asian
Japan used to be a
powerhouse in the Women's volleyball, and it will be the challenge of Manabe's
squad to put in some unforgettable performances at the FIVB World Grand
Champions Cup, one of the most prestigious events on the FIVB Volleyball
Masayoshi Manabe, born in Hyogo in 1963, became the new head coach of
Japan Women's Team in December 2008, taking over the position from former head
coach Shoichi Yanagimoto, who led the team since February 2003.
On his appointment, Manabe told a press conference, "I have
participated in the 1988 Seoul Olympics as a player. After watching the 2008
Beijing Olympics outside of the court, however, I felt like participating in
the Olympics again as a leader. I want to do my best and aim for the 2012
As a setter on Japan's Men's Team, Manabe participated in many international
events, including the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
He got his first taste of coaching in 1993 at Nippon Steel Blazers (the
predecessor of Sakai Blazers), when he led the team as a player-coach until
1999. Under his leadership, the team became back-to-back V-League champions in
1996 and 1997. From 1999 to 2005, Manabe focused on his career as a player and
moved from team to team.
Since his retirement as a player in 2005, Manabe has been head coach of
Hisamitsu Springs, who won the V-Premier League in 2006-2007.
The Japanese Women's Team is aiming to medal at the 2012 London Olympics
under the powerful leadership of Manabe.
In order to secure a place on the podium at the World Grand Champions
Cup, Manabe started the team's training camp well in advance of the tournament.
We believe Manabe is a quiet tactician who has what it takes to make
Japan's run at the World Grand Champions Cup a successful one.