A Devotion To Soccer And Kids

Bob Hogue
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Wednesday - December 24, 2008
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Maunawili’s Roy Takekawa received an early Christmas present last week.

The veteran coach, administrator and referee was honored by the Koolau Referee’s Association for his outstanding work both on and off the soccer field. The award he received is called the Issac Veal Award, named for the former Honolulu police officer and soccer referee who was killed in the line of duty several years ago.

“I was very honored to receive the award,” says Takekawa. “I refereed with Issac Veal. He was not only a great guy and very funny, but a very technical referee who always did a great job. I really respected him.”

Takekawa, 54, has earned a great deal of respect himself over the years. The University of Hawaii director of environmental health and safety never played soccer while growing up in Kailua.

“I was a swimmer,” says Takekawa, who attended Kailua High School during its so-called athletic glory days of the early 1970s. (Former Hawaii sporting greats Russ Francis and Pete Smith were Surfriders at the time.)

His life totally changed in the 1990s when his young daughters Sarah and Stacy signed up for Kailua AYSO.

“Everybody volunteers in AYSO and so I decided to take the test and become a referee,” he says.

Before too long, he also was coaching his daughters. Then he was coaching HYSA and taking teams to the highest level of competition. His 1997 U14 team, featuring Sarah and future Olympian Natasha Kai, won the HYSAstate championship and advanced to the regionals. Both Sarah and Stacy went on to become outstanding players at Kailua High, and Sarah eventually played collegiately at St. Mary’s. She’s now a medical student at the University of Hawaii, while Stacy is working to get into law school at the University of Washington.

“I got into soccer with my daughters, (but) then it became a big part of all of our lives,” he says. “There were times when every day had something to do with soccer.”

Takekawa became more and more involved. In 2004, he became the regional commissioner for Kailua AYSO, the state’s largest area of youth soccer participation, and one of the largest areas per capita for youth soccer participation in the entire nation. He’s also the regional referee administrator, where he’s trained more than 100 up-and-coming referees during the past decade or so, and he was the operations manager at the recent AYSO national tournament held on Oahu.

Somehow, with all that on his very crowded table, he still has time to be the co-head coach of the Kalaheo varsity girls soccer team.

“We work hard,” he says.

He laughs when I suggest how busy he is.

“I have to credit my wife Kristine,” he says. “She’s the one who has been there all along. She’s always dealing with me coaching, refereeing or going to meetings. She’s just been tremendously supportive.”

Takekawa says he also appreciates all the volunteers who have stepped forward over the years. “We couldn’t have done it without them,” he says.

Volunteering is an AYSO practice that has now become a tradition. And in Takekawa’s case, almost an obsession.

“Soccer is so much a part of our lives. These are the friends we’ve come to know,” he says. “I just like working with the kids and seeing their growth as players and as individuals. Years later, seeing my ex-players in the supermarket or wherever makes me feel really good that I may have had a small hand in their development. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

And that’s the greatest Christmas present of them all - seeing the fruits of his many, many hours of volunteer work.

Merry Christmas to Roy and Kristine Takekawa and their entire soccer family.

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