Masanari Omura is no newbie on the Kaya roster or on the pitch. Formerly long-haired, now sporting a blonde do, he’s the same Masa who’s been a common Kaya fixture since 2011—perpetually tan, a part-time coach, and a sushi lover. Read on as the 29-year-old footballer shares a lot about his Kaya adventures, his favorite Tagalog words, and his message to the fans.
Call him captain or coach or sakka-senshu (“soccer player”), and you’re sure to get some kind of acknowledgment from Masanari Omura or Masa for short. Since he joined Kaya in late 2011, he’s been in almost all roles and positions, except goalkeeper. One can say he’s become a “master” of some sort. Maybe it’s because of his experience or easygoing attitude or both.
Masa was born in Aichi, Japan, and started playing football when he was 10 years old. As a kid, though, what he originally wanted to play was baseball—but even in his youth, Masa was already a discriminating sports-oriented child and had to forgo Japan’s hisorically most popular sport for football.
“Baseball in my school was weak, which is why I went for football instead,” explained Masa, speaking about this ball-switching conundrum. Smart choice.
Since then, he never let go of the sport—or that dream to be a football player. In fact, all his choices and activities were unconsciously football-related, driving him to be the well-rounded and proficient player he has become.
From elementary all the way to college, Masa joined and participated in his schools’ football clubs. He attended Chukyo University and enrolled in a sports course, which, if we were left to translate, may mean sports science or physical education—you get the picture. It comes as no surprise that Masa would consider PE his favorite class.
Being very sports-oriented, his greatest football achievement springs back from his college days.
“When I was in university, there was a big tournament where all the universities in Japan participated, and my school won third place all over Japan. And I was the captain,” recalled Masa.
There you go, from senshu (“player”) to taichou (“captain”). Omedetou! And that’s Masa, pre-Kaya days!
A Walk in the (Fraser) Park
So how did Masa end up in Manila? Well, we have to take a detour first, down under!
“I didn’t play for three years after college, and then I went to Australia and played for Fraser Park,” narrated Masa about this Australian route.
Passing the tryouts, Masa spent about a year at Fraser Park FC. That was where he also met Coach David Perkovic.
“Yes. He was the coach. But at the beginning,when I joined, Perko wasn’t the coach yet. He only came in second half,” shared Masa.
A Filipino at Fraser Park FC (Leigh Gunn) pointed Masa to the Kaya tryouts. Perhaps on the lookout for more beaches, he obliged, and the rest, as we know, is history.
Saisho (“Una”) Kaya
In September of 2011, Masa found his way in Manila for the Kaya tryouts.
He first represented Kaya at the ICanServe charity match, but his official debut was at the UFL Cup of the same year.
While he started out as a midfielder for Kaya FC, he’s been assigned to other positions as well: winger, midfielder, and striker.
He also acts as a water boy on the side, when volunteering for Manila All-Japan FC. That’s what you call job rotation, but while Masa seems to be most comfortable as a midfielder, he plays the defender role so well—with his header as his best move so far.
Masa regards Kaya as not only a team but also his own family in the football world. Kaya indeed has a kind of brotherhood that can withstand anything under the sun. Having been with the club for more than two years, one can say that he’s enjoyed the ride, the weather, the company, and maybe the food too.
Among the Kaya brothers, he considers Toshi, Anton, and Tommy as his best mates. He likes to spend time at the gym too—perhaps a worthy athletic pastime—which is where you’d find him when he’s not scouring Manila for its best sushi (which we have yet to discover).
People aside, though, what he considers most memorable as a member of Kaya was “the last match last year against Global when we won, 3–2!”
So happy he cut his hair and bleached it. Or that may be a different story altogether.
Being a PE major, Masa sees himself in the future as a PE instructor in Japan since he does have the license to teach.
He has found a practice ground in Manila, getting the ample opportunity to coach kids in the Fort (from that Japanese school) and the Manila All-Japan FC. Let it be clear that though he takes pride in being a water boy, he started out as a coach, alongside Yu Hoshide of Global FC.
Dealing with a lot of youngsters, the best advice he could give is simply to enjoy football. Coach Chris of Kaya FC Academy will agree with him for sure.
Seriously, what Masa misses the most from Japan is the sushi! He may have discovered and explored the authentic Japanese places in Manila—but nothing beats the sushi back home. Does he get homesick? Our guess is more of sushi-sick.
Of course, that shouldn’t be a problem since he asserts that his skill—other than football—happens to be cooking! Cooking Japanese food at home is a common activity, but once in a while, he indulges in his local favorite, beef tapa.
When he’s not cooking, coaching, or Instagramming photos, best place to consider searching for Masa is the beach. We’ve got a certified beach bum here—and he’s got a real tan to prove it. His favorite so far is El Nido, Palawan. With the summer fast approaching, who knows where Masa will find himself traveling off to? Only the cab driver will know since most of Masa’s local lingo is drawn from directional words: kanan, kaliwa, diretso. Don’t expect much from greeting him “Kamusta ka na?” though a “Magkano?” might get you some form of acknowledgment or even spare change.
It is Masa’s intention to really learn English, though no plans are being made as of the moment. Perhaps with the beach season on its way, priorities must come first. We understand the sentiment.
Speaking of priorities, Kaya is, well, first in Masa’s life and career. With the way the fans cheer and support the team with unparalleled ardor, Masa’s devotion to the club can only be reinforced.
In return, take a minute to savor Masa’s sincere message and the effort. For real!
“Thanks for all the support all the time. You guys are the best. You are the best fans in the league—or in the world!”
Sure, it may sometimes be hard to engage Masa in a one-on-one conversation unless you’ve got Google Translate installed on your brain, so we’re helping you get to know Masa more. Blond hair aside, he’s quite the character and has quite a lot to share aside from his sunny smile, so sort it out, Masa!