Ambitious plan underway to train young soccer playersSoccer players under 15 years of age were being trained on a grassy field at the municipal stadium in Seoguipo, Jeju Island. They are the focal point of the “2007 Project,” an ambitious plan by the Korea Football Association to foster soccer talent.
“When you dribble, keep as low as possible,” said coach Park Gyeong-hun, whose voice was getting louder and louder. “Slowly and then make a quick turn. That’s right. Change rhythm like this so that you can fool your opponents.”
The association is aiming to host and win the 2007 under-17 FIFA World Youth Championship. At the moment, Korea and Iran are in competition to host the event. The association appointed Mr. Park, who coached the national team for the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and gave him full authority over the selection of players.
Mr. Park initially picked 70 candidates in January and then singled out 35 players after watching them in practice games. Later, Mr. Park chose 25 players in training held in Ulsan. After practice in Seoguipo, he will select the best 18. The team will then go to France, where friendly matches will be held among eight countries between March 23 and 28.
Mr. Park is known for picking good players; when he was coaching Cheonggu High School in 1997, he enrolled Park Chu-young, who was then in sixth grade at Banyawol Primary School, in Cheonggu Middle School. Now Park Chu-young, who is on the under-20 national team, is touted as a future national player.
“There are many players who possess good basic skills and physique,” Mr. Park said. “Now I am training them to make instant moves to bypass the defense.”
Kwak Jeong-sul, a striker who is from Daegu like Park Chu-young, said, “My dream is to become the best striker like brother Park, but for now I only think about surviving.”
The “survival game” to be a member of the 2007 under-17 national team is in its final stages. Through the fierce competition, the players have greatly improved their skills and have demonstrated this by beating teams made up of players who are three years older.
by Jeong Young-jae