Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

MFA Growing in Taiwan

Michael Chandler teaching soccer in Taipei

Michael Chandler teaching soccer in Taipei

     From Taipei, Taiwan

     If you read last week’s column you would have learned that running as a sport in Taiwan is close to non-existent. In fact sports of any kind is very low key to the Taiwanese and most would prefer to watch competition on television rather that participate.

    But if Michael Chandler and his partners have any say, things will begin to change.

    Chandler, and two of his partners, founded Master Football Academy (MFA) in 2004 to help develop sports competition amongst the children of Taiwan.

   “There is a huge hole in grassroots sports development in Taiwan, which we aim to help close,” Chandler said.

    Chandler moved to Taipei in 1999 when the shipping company he works for transferred him from a post in Saudi Arabia.  “My core profession is shipping, namely freight forwarding.  In Taiwan we solely focus on transport solutions of commercial goods between Taiwan and Europe.  MFA is simply my passionate hobby,” he said.

    Now before anyone starts having visions of a Taiwanese version of Bret Favre or Jason Elam remember that “football” to the world outside the United States refers to what we Americans call “soccer.”

    “I’ve been playing a variety of sports since I can remember, imitating my heroes from watching TV,” Chandler said.  “I’ve always been involved in football through playing in the streets and at school.  I was, however, a more useful cricketer.”

   Chandler, along with many other transplants to the country, feels that Taiwan is far behind the rest of the world in sports education.

    “Taiwan is an amazing country, which has developed economically quicker than most other’s and therefore made concerted and successful efforts towards education.  However, at the expense of physical education,” he said.

    A recent report released by Taiwan’s Department of Health showed that one in every four junior high and high school students are considered overweight due to a lack of exercise and poor nutrition.

   “A lack of exercise, poor eating habits, TV, and computer games are also the culprits,” Chandler said in response to the report.

    “We know through experience that if children are not introduced to fun sports at a young age it becomes more difficult to introduce the older they become,” Chandler said.  “One other important factor here is the exposure to professional sport is very poor, so it is difficult for children to have heroes to aspire to.”

    MFA’s mission is to promote some of the early work in introducing Taiwanese children to the simple fundamentals of the game.

    “Some of the early work we concentrate on is to simply get the children up on their toes.  You wouldn’t believe how flat-footed many people are here, as a limited sports culture exists meaning they have not been appropriately taught,” Chandler said.

   Over the past few years there has been more focus towards sports outside of the school system.  Roller skating, tennis, baseball and soccer classes are on the rise, according to Chandler.

    But Chandler is quick to point out that the early introduction to new sports activities occur primarily in the elementary school years and fade as soon as the children move onto Junior High.

    “Our (MFA) focus over the next few years will be to try to keep the junior and senior high school student’s active in sports.  Our first initiative is to introduce a community league program where we can actively involve the parents to enable them to learn for themselves the benefits a life-long involvement in sports will provide,” Chandler said.

     If Chandler and his partners are successful in introducing a community league program it will be the first of its kind in Taiwan, and no easy task.

   For residents of Taiwan, baseball is the favorite spectator sport, but the professional league, with its four teams, has had its problems its short history.   The baseball league has been rocked with various scandals, mainly gambling, that today has diminished its attendance.

    In 2007 one of the co-founders of MFA, David Camhi, developed a recreational team of adult players called Taipei Football Club (TFC).

    After meeting with initial success Camhi and the TFC progressed in the development to create Taipei County Master Football Club (TC-MFC) which is an elite team that has now gained entry into Taiwan’s 2nd tier football league, with the hopes of making it into the top tier.

     Through the efforts of people like Chandler and Camhi the MFA (soccer) program from kindergarten through to Taiwan’s top level now has something to offer all players; from all abilities in the growing hope to have Taiwan takes its place in the world’s sporting community.

Chandler promoting soccer in Taiwan

Chandler promoting soccer in Taiwan


July 6, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , | 3 Comments


Growing up on Oahu I was exposed to a variety of sporting activities from Little League Baseball to park league basketball.

I played all the glamour sports before trying bowling, tennis and softball. My signature sport for the past 25 years has been running, but that never came about until I was well into my 30’s as league teams sports began to fade and family life became a higher priority.

Being well rounded in a variety of sports gave me a good foundation to help motivate me to stay active and running became the perfect marker for me to set goals and to reach for personal improvement.

Hilo’s Ed Torrison also exposed himself to a variety of “glamour” sports during his youth and today is actively involved in two that he stumbled upon.

“I found out early on that sports gave me a reason to go to school everyday,” Torrison said.

Growing up in Spokane, Washington, Torrison discovered his love for playing a variety of sports. “I played basketball since 5th grade, being the tallest kid in school made me a no brainer for center on the team,” he said.

Torrison also played a little baseball, football and was on the track & field team before settling into his passion, basketball.

“I tried out for the little league team, but early on I got hit in the eye with a ball and decided it wasn’t my sport,” he said.

Torrison also played on the North Central High School football team in Spokane for three years where he was a tight end and defensive end, but he realized that “I didn’t have the football mentality” and he gave that sport up as well.

In track Torrison tried the discus, triple jump, high hurdles and the javelin. “I broke the school record in the javelin throw as a senior and went to the state meet in that event,” he said. “The last I heard my record of 186 feet still stands.”

Like most promising young athletes Torrison was under the delusion that he was going to get a college scholarship to play basketball, but when that didn’t materialize he decided to join the Army National Guard in 1976.

Graduating the top of his class in carpenter school with the Army Corps of Engineers, Torrison took that skill into the private sector and entered a career in remodeling and tile setting, specializing in bathrooms and kitchens.

But being young and adventurous, Torrison decided to leave Spokane behind to meet his best friend, who was camping on Poipu beach on Kauai in 1980.

“I arrived with only $11 and a backpack and quickly cashed in my return ticket so that I could stay on Kauai,” he said.

In 1986 Torrison was on his way to seek a new adventure on the Big Island where he met up with friend, Kelly Moran. “Kelly suggested that I get into the Real Estate profession, so I did. Over the years I moved to a few different brokerages before going out on my own in 2004,” he said.

Along the way Torrison met and married a former hula girl named Cheryl Matsuda and today they have two sons, Eddie, 14 and Chris, 13.

For 20 years Torrison stayed active by continuing to play basketball in the men’s league. “I am quickly realizing that I can’t keep up with the young guns anymore, so that sport is getting phased out,” he said.

In 1992 Torrison tried his hand at running and entered the Honolulu Marathon (26.2-mile run). “I had so much fun, I did it again in 1993,” he said with a grin.

As his two sons began to get older Torrison found himself volunteering to coach their soccer teams, as well as T-Ball and Coach Pitch teams.

Today son Eddie is a freshman at Hilo High and has just completed his first season on the Viking cross-country team. “Eddie will now try out for the soccer team and I will continue to coach Chris in AYSO,” Torrison said.

Torrison’s involvement in soccer led him to try to learn more about the sport so seven years ago he joined the Makule Co-ed Soccer League. “I got the soccer bug big time and have played every Sunday since then,” he said.

For the past seven years Torrison has volunteered to referee for AYSO games and last summer he stepped into the position of President of the Makule league. Then, just last week he accepted an assistant coaching position at Hilo High under head coach Don Memmer.

During the real estate boom of two years ago Torrison found himself working 70 hour weeks and still found the time to coach, play soccer and go fishing. “Now with the real estate market almost flat here in Hilo I, unfortunately, have way too much time available,” he said.

Recently this 51 year old has acquired a serious case of “Yak Attack.” “A friend let me borrow his Kayak outfitted with rod holders and I’ve been logging in about 20 miles a week paddling around Hilo Bay in search of the elusive papio,” he said.

Torrison has also found time to do community service projects with the Kiwanis Club of East Hawaii, working with their sponsored youth groups, the Key Clubs and KIWINS at Hilo and Waiakea High Schools and the Builders Clubs at those two Intermediate Schools.

“I believe that everyday we are given a new start at life and we have a clean canvas to paint on,” he said. “We need to add to that the intensity of living like it’s the last day of our lives. No time for petty bickering, of putting off important things till tomorrow.”

“I try to live and love as hard as I can for as long as I can and then see what happens at the end.”

And someday should you happen to see a happy, smiling runner go passing through your neighborhood remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog,”

The Big Dog can be reached through email at waiakeabigdog@aol.com.

February 22, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , | 1 Comment