Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
World Cup kids on fast track to stardom
by Dae Park, September 27th, 2010 7:52PM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

TAGS:  south korea, u-17 women's world cup


[SOUTH KOREA] Yeo Min Ji and her teammates on South Korea's 2010 under-17 national team were 9 years old in 2002 when they watched the World Cup being held in South Korea and Japan. Eight years later, they captured South Korea's first world championship, defeating Japan on penalty kicks in Sunday's Under-17 Women's World Cup final after their game ended, 3-3.

In women's golf, half of the top 10 players are South Korean women. When they were kids, they watched Se Ri Pak's play on TV. Now in 2010, Yeo and the World Cup kids achieved similar heights.

The players whose interest in soccer was sparked by the 2002 World Cup were put on the fast track with a small but intense soccer program and dazzled the world with their skills in Trinidad & Tobago. Their tenacity, can-do spirit and step-by-step training helped them go all the way.

Like many middle-school South Korean girls, Yeo Min Ji was expected by her parents to take up golf. At that time Pak was becoming famous, so it was natural that Min Ji's parents planned to take her to a golf practice lounge. But she had other ideas.

Since Min Ji's brother, Sangho, was playing soccer, her mom went out to buy soccer shoes for him. Min Ji pestered her mom to buy her soccer shoes as well and that day she started play with a soccer ball.

By 14, she was playing on the under-19 national team, and according to head coach Young Ki Lee, even the older players had to learn from Min Ji's speed, dribbling and passing skills.

The same year, Min Ji received Rookie of the Year award from the Daily Sports. As part of the award, she went to England to meet Park Ji Sung, who plays at Manchester United and visited the Old Trafford Stadium.

Yeo led the Under-17 Women's World Cup with eight goals in six games and also won the adidas Golden Ball as the tournament MVP.

The success of the South Korean U-17s follows the country's third-place finish at this summer's Under-20 Women's World Cup in Germany.

The Korea Football Association paid bonuses totaling $247,000 to the U-20 players. Star Ji So Yun (who also scored eight goals in six games) and other 14 players got bonuses of $10,000 and the other seven players got $6,000 each.

For the U-17 girls, the rewards will be a lot higher. But instead of cash, they will be in the form of college scholarships.

Athletes like figure skater Kim Yu Na, Park Ji Sung and Pak Se Ri are immensely popular in Korea and have huge contracts to make TV commercials. Offers should come Yeo's way when she returns from Trinidad.

But soccer opportunities for women are still not widespread in South Korea like in the United States and many European countries.

Once there were 24 elementary school girls soccer teams in Korea. After the government cut its subsidy, that number was reduced to 18 teams. Between middle schools and high schools, there are about 50 teams and a total of about 1,000 players competing in South Korean girls soccer.

Only six Korean colleges have women’s soccer, while the WK League -- the women's league launched in 2009 -- has six clubs.

Only the top players like Yeo and Ji -- "Ji Messi" -- are enjoying the spotlight. More widespread support is needed to build upon Korea's success.

No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now



Recent Soccer America Daily
MLS: All the Decision Day talking points    
FC Dallas is two-thirds the way toward the first treble in MLS history ... Seattle made ...
USL Final: Allen hat trick powers NYRBII to big win    
Former Georgetown star Brandon Allen scored three goals and added an assist as New York Red ...
Video Pick: Klopp cracks up at mixup    
Liverpool's German coach Jurgen Klopp amused himself after misunderstanding a postgame question following his team's 2-1 ...
What They're Saying: Jose Mourinho    
"This gesture, at 1-0, OK. Not at 4-0. It is a humiliation." -- Jose Mourinho, caught ...
USWNT: Ohai does one (second) better than Williams    
The USA overcame an early deficit to hammer Switzerland, 5-1, before 23,400 fans at Minneapolis' U.S. ...
Crowd Count: MLS breaks attendance marks    
MLS broke its record for average attendance for the third year in a row, finishing with ...
MLS: Decision Day Results & Final Standings    
FC Dallas won the MLS Supporters' Shield when it tied the LA Galaxy, 0-0. Philadelphia clinched ...
What They're Saying: Georgia teen Reuben Nsemoh    
"My friends would always talk to me in Spanish and would teach me. I wasn't perfect, ...
U.S. Abroad: Pulisic rescues Borussia Dortmund    
Christian Pulisic came off the bench to set up one goal and score the tying goal ...
Lauren Holiday recovering after successful surgery    
Former U.S. national team star Lauren Holiday is recovering after having successful surgery at Duke University ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives