중앙데일리

Saving souls through soccer

Apr 02,2007
Elementary school students in South Africa attending a soccer class with Lim Heung-se. Provided by Lim Heung-se
The man once called the “guru of Korean soccer” is investing his life-savings to help create children’s soccer teams in South Africa, the country that will host the 2010 World Cup. Lim Heung-se, 51, the president of Lim Sports, a sporting goods store in Dongdaemun, is famous for having coached popular soccer players such as Hong Myeong-bo.
Last month, Lim flew to Cape Town and organized children’s soccer teams at two local elementary schools. “South Africa has many social problems,” he said. “There is racial conflict, growing numbers of AIDS sufferers and a tuberculosis epidemic. I want to give children hope through soccer.” Lim has decided to emigrate to South Africa in August. He has already obtained a charitable activities visa that will allow him to reside in South Africa until he acquires his citizenship.
Organizing children’s soccer teams and building a soccer center are part of his ambitious plans. He envisions creating 32 soccer teams and hosting a mini-World Cup.
At a South African elementary school, he hosted a “Lim Heung-se Soccer Class,” and trained 1,500 students over the course of two weeks. Among the students, the top 50 were selected to play for the school’s soccer team. Prior to Lim’s arrival, students didn’t have enough soccer balls to play with, and had to practice with bits of plastic or fruit. Now, the children seem to thoroughly enjoy playing “real” soccer.

Lim Heung-se
“South African children are very flexible and have a natural talent for soccer. The only thing they lacked was proper training. With systematic training, it is my belief that they will soon produce a world-class soccer player like Drogba or Adebayor,” said Lim.
As a pastor at Seoul’s Gwanghyeon Church, Lim has done missionary work in Africa, through soccer, since the early ’80s. Once South Africa was chosen to host the 2010 World Cup, he decided that he would use the contest as a way to advance upon his goals. Earlier this year, he asked for support from the South African government. “It is an honor to have a soccer coach who hails from the country that reached the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup,” was the government’s response. Lim will have to invest heavily in his dream. In order to organize and train 32 soccer teams, he will have to spend 100 million won annually, but that does not bother him.
“If my fortune and knowledge of soccer contribute to giving hope to hundreds of children, what more could I ask for?” he said.
Lim played on the soccer teams at Hanyang High School and Incheon University. After graduation, he worked as a soccer coach for several schools. He coached Kim Ju-sung, the director of the International Committee at the Korea Football Association, while at Seongsu Middle School, and Hong Myeong-bo, a coach with the Korean national team, at Kwanghee Middle School. Hong has often complimented his former mentor. He once said “The training I received from coach Lim truly shaped me as a national soccer player. Lim was my most memorable coach. “


By Jeong Young-jae JoongAng Ilbo [jbiz91@joongang.co.kr]


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