For five years, professional footballer Ryuji Sueoka spent hours with Indian cobblers to learn the art of repairing shoes. Today, he fixes broken boots in Japan and dispatch them to many nations including India for underprivileged kids. By Team Born of Web
Roadside cobblers are looked down upon in India for doing ‘shoe’ job. But for Japanese footballer Ryuji Sueoka, they turned out to be the guiding light for the next course of his career.
While he was in India to play football for over five years for top clubs like Mohun Bagan, East Bengal, Pune FC and Dempo, his teammates would hardly know that he was also mastering the art of shoemaking from the street corner cobblers. How did it happen?
Sueoka, now a second division coach in Japan, first came across a cobbler when he was playing for Mohun Bagan in 2009. A kit member saw his broken boots and took him to a cobbler in Kolkata. Sueoka was stumped by the skills of the cobbler and even pondered on taking the skill to Japan. While he was in Goa from 2010 to 2013 to play for Salgaocar and Dempo, he would spend hours with cobblers observing and learning their skills.
Post his retirement in 2015, he enrolled himself into a professional course in Japan. “Honestly, I wanted to learn the art in India but I didn’t have much time and courage. So I learnt it in Japan. It was costly because I learnt in a school for a few months,” told the Yamaguchi native to The Indian Express over an email interaction.
Today, Sueoka has got his small space where he gathers and repairs broken boots, only to dispatch them to underprivileged kids to different countries like India, Cambodia, Bhutan, Thailand and Jordan.
H/T: The Indian Express
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