Japanese defender Yukari Kinga has been there and done it all – but has declared Melbourne City to be the best environment she’s worked in.
The 34-year-old has had an illustrious career to date - she won a World Cup with Japan in 2011, two East Asian Football Championships as well as an FA Cup with Arsenal in 2014. She also has a 2012 Olympics silver medal on her CV.
Kinga’s first taste of the W-League came in 2016, when she signed for Canberra United, before joining City, where she won the 2018 W-League championship.
The veteran is a utility who has played most of her career at right-back, but can also play in midfield and as a right-winger.
She added that City offered what no other club did in her career.
“City was a big step up from Canberra, it’s perfect for football,” Kinga tells The Women’s Game. “The facilities, the players and staff are professional.
“Their women’s team has been the best in the world for me. We get a lot of feedback so I can improve as a player.
“I’m enjoying football and living with my teammates. In every game I focus on enjoying myself and I only think about one game at a time. The most important game is the next one.”
City have won three championships in a row since their induction into the league in the 2015/16 season, but it’s likely they will miss out on finals this season as they sit sixth with two games left.
Kinga is acclimatising well to Australian life after playing most of her career back home in Japan and has also had a stint in China.
She has also improved vastly with her English since arriving to the nation’s capital in 2016.
“Our team is very close, we work hard, but have fun all the time,” she added.
“I enjoy our team work, I like how we all combine. We haven’t had a good start, but week-by-week, we will keep trying to win so we can challenge in finals.
“Speaking English is sometimes difficult, but I can read and write. I am also learning all the time at the club.
“The people are kind and friendly. We have a lot of free time in Australia, so the days are longer. I go to cafes, do some shopping and spend time in the city.”
Kinga spoke about her experiences at the 2011 World Cup in Germany, where they defeated the hosts in the quarter-finals as well as powerhouses United States on penalties in the final.
She hasn’t played for Japan since 2016, but hasn’t ruled out a comeback for the Nadeshiko.
The defender also believes the Matildas will be a strong force in this year’s World Cup in France.
“We couldn’t believe it, when we won the tournament, 10 years ago, we couldn’t beat the USA or Germany and then we won the World Cup,” she said.
“I’m happy with what I have done with the national team. If the coach were to call me to play, I would want to play again. I love playing for Japan.
“The Matildas’ team now is strong and doing well. They will be a tough team to beat.”
She also added the FA Cup Final triumph with the Gunners and playing in former Japanese teammate Homare Sawa’s farewell game were also part of her proudest moments.
“Sawa is a legend in Japanese football,” she said.
“When she scored a goal, it was a very happy moment for me and the team. I enjoyed that moment.
“Of course Arsenal was one of the biggest highlights. The FA Cup is a big tournament and it was a great honour to win it.”