#Member associations

Japan's Takeshi Ono: The importance of 'football for everybody'

Takeshi Ono, 14 Sep 2023


Is competing everything? In this talk Takeshi Ono explains how seeing football through a broader lens might be a better long-term option for member associations.


  • The benefits of an inclusive approach to participation at the grassroots/amateur level 

  • The links between participation and success at elite level 

  • Encouraging citizens to become healthier and happier through football 

Going beyond competition

The Japanese Football Association (JFA) are prioritizing 'football for everybody' as part of their aim of winning the FIFA World Cup™ by 2050, says Takeshi Ono, the JFA's Assistant Technical Director. "In the past Japanese football concentrated too much on competition and competing and it was not enough," explains Ono, who is in his second spell with the JFA after previously working as Technical Director. 

"When we looked at the countries who had won the World Cup trophy, they were not only providing competitive football but also football on a daily basis: 'football for everybody'. We saw that parents, families, older people and people with disabilities could all enjoy football. So, that's the most important factor for us."

Japan's focus on 'football for everybody' is a core part of their new national football philosophy 'Japan's way' which was released to the public in 2022. Ono, who is also a FIFA Technical Leadership expert, hopes 'Japan’s way' will help the JFA achieve their aim of winning the world cup by 2050. 

"We have a pledge that was made in 2005 and it said by 2050, we will organise a FIFA World Cup again and we would be World Cup champions. As part of the pledge we by 2015 we would be top ten of the world. During the first period of the pledge we did very strongly, but we only had focus on the competition pyramid. 

"But all of the 'advanced' football countries had lots of players playing and focused on making people happier through football. So, in 'Japan's way' we have put a big weight on competitive football but also 'well-being' football."

Ono, who is responsible for Japan's youth development and coach education, admits that the JFA did not achieve their aim of being top ten in the world by 2015, but hope that a greater focus on participation and player well-being will help them achieve their new aim of being in the top four of the world by 2030.

"We thought that by only focusing on competing it would be the short way to success, but we learned it isn't. 

"There is now a reducing total population in Japan, especially in children. So, we must promote the kids coming to the pitch and not only for football, but just for healthy activity. We realised 'football for everybody' is a very important step towards our dream."


  • Providing inclusive participation opportunities can help the health and happiness of society 

  • More inclusive and accessible amateur football opportunities can have a positive impact on players progressing to the elite level 


  • How inclusive and accessible is amateur/grassroots football in your country? 

  • How do you link your amateur/grassroots football and elite football to ensure a seamless player pathway? 

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