TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Maezato Rikuto, a Japanese man who came to Taiwan to study Mandarin four years ago, is now one of the most dominant players in the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL).
A native of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa, the 22-year-old said making a career in Taiwan's professional soccer league was not on his mind when he came to the country in 2017. He said he had chosen to study at Aletheia University in Tamsui, New Taipei, because he wanted to learn Mandarin.
As an undergraduate pursuing a degree in tourism, Rikuto's passion for soccer never really subsided. Since Aletheia University does not have a soccer team, he would often join scrimmages between other universities.
However, the university matches were eventually unable to satisfy Rikuto's longing for a larger stage. After coming across information about the TFPL online, he contacted all eight clubs in the league to express his desire to join.
In 2018, Rikuto was given the opportunity to try out for the Taipei Flight Skywalkers, which later signed him. He was recently made team captain and will serve as a translator between the players and their Japanese coaching staff.
Determined to continue his soccer journey in Taiwan, Rikuto said he is ready to face any challenge in the upcoming season. He also revealed that he will likely return to Okinawa to start a tourism business after hanging up his jersey.
Rikuto with teammates. (Instagram, Maezato Rikuto photo)