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

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

MOST COMMENTED

[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




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Sebastian Saucedo strikes twice as U.S. U-20s advance     
The USA moved into the second stage of the men's Concacaf U-20 Championship with a 4-1 ...
Roster: U.S. U-23 women head to Spain    
The U.S. U-23 women's national team will play Japan (March 2), England (March 4) and Norway ...
USWNT: No Klingenberg, no A-Rod for SheBelieves Cup    
U.S. women's national team head coach Jill Ellis has named the 23-player roster for the 2017 ...
Report: UCL headed to Turner and Univision in 2018    
Turner Sports and Univision have snatched the U.S. media rights to the UEFA Champions League away ...
U.S. Soccer: U-17 and U-20 women's coaches to be replaced    
B.J. Snow is no longer U.S. U-17 girls national team coach and Michelle French is out ...
U.S. Abroad: Johnson's M'Gladbach pulls miracle comeback    
Fabian Johnson came off the bench for Borussia Moenchengladbach as it came back from 2-0 down ...
Sneak Peek: Potent Impact seeks resiliency and depth    
Last year Montreal stunned Red Bulls, 3-1, on aggregate and took a commanding lead against Toronto ...
What They're Saying: Perry Dealy    
"It's worth preserving because we don't have a lot of icons. It would save a lot ...
Sneak Peek: Vieira is convinced NYCFC will be improved    
In his first season, Patrick Vieira proved that a foreign coach unfamiliar with MLS could find ...
Sneak Peek: Timbers look as good as ever    
From MLS champion in 2015 to out of the playoffs in 2016, it was quite a ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives