The ocean has always called to Issey Nakajima-Farran.
Whether in Japan, or in England, or Denmark, or Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, and, now, with Pacific FC on Vancouver Island, Nakajima-Farran has tended to land with clubs in locales close to water.
The well-travelled Canadian has stories from his time abroad, of course – and you can read a few of them here, in Part I of this two-part series, which includes a major betrayal, a country in economic crisis and an attack by a monkey. He hopes to tell another tale, a more important and personal one, during his time in the Canadian Premier League.
But first, let’s reveal the reason behind Pacific FC’s recent saunter up-island, shall we?
Nakajima-Farran is buying a boat.
It’s not a flashy boat – just a wooden fishing boat from 1967. He and longtime international and now-club teammate Marcel de Jong are heading over to take a look and sea test a vessel that will serve as Nakajima-Farran’s housing during his time at Pacific FC.
“Only if this sea trial goes well,” Nakajima-Farran made sure to point out.
Why a boat, Issey?
“This was to enjoy life here,” he answered. “If I were to come to Victoria, I wanted to be doing some familiar things, but I also want to live like the locals. The majority of the people have been on a boat or have a boat here and do enjoy that lifestyle when the weather gets warmer, so I thought, you know what? I’ve never had a boat, I’ve never driven a boat, and don’t really do fishing. But I’m going to learn to enjoy fishing and try a whole new lifestyle.”
Everywhere Nakajima-Farran has gone, he has tried to embrace the lifestyle of its locals.
Adventures were, of course, part and parcel to that experience. So were the cultures, foods, languages and traditions of the people. He immersed himself in the cultures of his surroundings, while expressing himself through art and the shared global language of football.
“I’d go camping, drive a 4×4 all along the Gold Coast, see the whales and dolphins and kangaroos,” he recounts. “It was beautiful.”
“Amazing city, beautiful ocean, great food,” he answered.
“Crystal-blue water, and everything is cheap but exotic and tropical. And yummy,” he said.
Nothing bad about these places?
“As long as there was water, I was happy,” Nakajima-Farran said. “Ninety percent of the clubs I’ve played for have been along the water, the ocean. I wanted to be in locations where I don’t need to holiday from my job. I’m doing what I love, of course, but still need to unwind. If you’re in a beautiful location, you’re only 30 minutes away from refreshing yourself.
“I love city life, but I love more the natural resources that a location has to offer. Travelling is a luxury, but I’d rather be there for a year and eat what the locals eat, do what the locals do, and really get involved in a community.”
And so, Nakajima-Farran is buying a boat.
As our conversation wound down, this writer quipped that Nakajima-Farran might very well be the most interesting man in Canadian soccer.
He is humble, of course, in his reply.
“I don’t agree with that because I look up to the other guys I played with,” he answers, crediting Rob Friend, Josh Simpson and Atiba Hutchinson.
“But I do appreciate that,” he continued. “I think I have a different perspective to life.”
Perception, he explains, is everything.
“When I was young and living in Japan, I was told that how you talk to the fans and how you project yourself is so important. In Japan, young players go to what’s called the ‘J-Village’ where they practice how to talk in public and how to display themselves. We don’t have that sort of system here in Canada so if I can at least share my experiences (with Pacific FC’s young players), then I will.”
Ultimately, giving back to Canada is Nakajima-Farran’s calling of late.
He hopes to impart his experiences and knowledge and help his young teammates. He says he’ll be keeping tabs on their social media to make sure they project themselves with equal measures of personality and poise. And, on an even wider scale, he revealed that he and de Jong will be opening a youth soccer academy on Vancouver Island, and giving back directly via coaching whenever they can.
“For us, building a whole football culture in this city is great,” Nakajima-Farran concluded. “Kids are already playing this game. It’s exciting to be a part of it all.
“I’ve always wanted to belong somewhere,” he finished. “And I’ve never had inspiration from players who play for my city, coaching me the next day. It’s all about them. It’s about those kids.”
For Nakajima-Farran, it’s obvious life is about so much more than a sport, work or worries.
It’s about football, sure, but also about something else most chase but rarely realize.
This is more than a Canadian soccer story.
It’s about a life well-lived — one we can all learn from.