Critical season for women’s football to kick off

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Critical season for women’s football to kick off

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Players from each club in the WK League pose with the championship trophy at the Korea Football Association headquarters in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul, last Tuesday. [NEWSIS]

The 2015 WK League starts its eight-month journey tonight as Busan Sangmu and Suwon City Facilities Management Corporation go head-to-head in the opener.

The semi-pro women’s league, which includes a game every Monday at 7 p.m., has seven teams playing 28 games each. The regular season winner goes directly to the championship series, competing against the winner of the playoffs.

The Korea Women’s Football Federation (KWFF) said this year will be the most critical one yet for women’s football as the league will start a home-and-away system for the first time. Although each club has their city in their name, they have been playing without a home stadium.

Setting a location for each club means they can now expand their marketing in association with regional governments, while players can have regular training sessions at their home stadiums.

“The home-and-away system was the WK League’s most-wanted wish,” said Icheon Daekyo’s forward Cha Yun-hee at a media day last Tuesday. “We had no team supporters, but as our hometown is now set, we can easily get closer with fans.”

The WK League is hoping women’s football will boom, rising to have derbies just like the K-League Classic. In the men’s top league, the game between FC Seoul and Suwon Samsung Bluewings is called a “Super Match” and is even introduced on FIFA’s website as one of the world’s hottest football derbies.

That rivalry can now continue into the WK League as Seoul Metropolitan Government Women’s FC and Suwon City Facilities Management Corporation can meet each other in their own stadiums. Seoul uses Jamsil Auxiliary Stadium as its home, while Suwon uses Suwon Main Stadium.

“Suwon is city of football, and we are happy to be in this city,” said Suwon City Facilities Management Corporation coach Kim Sang-tae.

“With the home-and-away system, women’s football will develop much further.”

The players are already hyped up about the rivalry. The first match between Seoul and Suwon is scheduled on June 29 at Jamsil Auxiliary Stadium.

“We didn’t think about the rivalry before, but now we have our home we keep thinking about it,” said Seoul captain and goalkeeper Wee Sung-hee.

Three-time league champion Daekyo now has a new home in Icheon, Gyeonggi. The team was previously based in Goyang, also in Gyeonggi. The Korea Sports Promotion Foundation, which previously represented North Jeolla, has moved to Hwacheon, Gangwon.

Defending champion Hyundai Steel Red Angels uses Namdong Asia Rugby Field in Incheon as its home stadium, while Sports Toto will remain in Daejeon.

But even though the home-and-away system has been introduced, the KWFF said some matches will be played in areas that have no connection with the teams, as Busan didn’t complete a deal with their regional government. Although the team is named after Busan, it will use Boeun Public Stadium in North Chungcheong as its home.


BY JOO KYUNG-DON, KIM MIN-GYU [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]
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