Koreans had an especially hot summer this year since they received unexpected good news. The Under-20(U-20) Korean women’s soccer team ranked third in Germany’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup. This is anomalous when looking back on 20 years of women’s soccer history in Korea.
They made a brilliant performance. Even though all the players who were on the field were amazing, there was a girl who especially stood out. She scored eight goals in the 2010 women’s world cup and seized the global spotlight. She is Ji So-yeon, the so-called Ji-Messi, who was in the center of a sensation in Korean Women’s Soccer of 2010.
Regarding the Women’s World Cup of 2010
Q. Did you anticipate success in international competition?
A. I have not expected our team to win the prize; however, I thought that we would play very well in Germany, since we prepared a lot for this match.
Q. What did you think of it before participating in the World Cup?
A. Not only me but also our team members all thought just one thing. That is to promote Women’s soccer in and for Korea. There were lots of people who did not know even about our participation in the competition including the reporters. When we noticed that no reporters showed up at the airport, we resolved to make it happen among ourselves.
Ji So-yeon as a soccer player
Q. What made you start playing soccer in spite of an uncommon situation?
A. When I was in the second grade, I really wanted to join the male soccer team in my elementary school. I just liked soccer. Even though my parents opposed my dream, I used to tease them showing how much I want to play soccer. As time went by, they could come to trust me.
Q. You look somewhat short compared to the other soccer players. What do you think of this?
A. Height does not matter in my soccer playing. As I even head the ball when tussling with the other players, I can manage to make a goal with good positioning.
Q. How did you overcome some difficulties or obstacles while playing soccer?
A. I occasionally got stressed out when practices do not work out as well as I hoped. Whenever I face some difficulties, I try to get rid of my stress by exercising more and more.
Ji So-yeon as a Person
Q. Hanyang University (HYU) and Hanyang Women’s University often have meetings with each other. Did you have any meetings with HYU?
A. HYU is just next to us so I am always interested in HYU. I have not gone on a blind date with cool guys at all because I concentrated only on playing soccer. However if I have a chance to go on a blind date with Hanyangians, I actually want to do it. By the way, is there anyone who wants to go out with me?
Q. Who is your favorite soccer player?
A. My favorite is Zinedine Zidane. I enjoy watching his play. His creative passing ability and fancy plays make me excited. Some people call me Ji-messi. Even though I appreciate this nickname, it is somewhat like a burden to me. I want people to recognize me the way I am; as Ji So-yeon, not Ji-messi.
Q. To athletes, which one is more important- talent or effort?
A. In my opinion, talent is more important than effort. Even though someone does his or her best, natural ability is required for great athletics. To be perfect, however, one percent of talent is needed. Effort takes up about 99 percent.
Q. Do you have any plan to go to the German league or America league?
A. Not yet. It would be determined after the Tongildaegi women’s soccer tournament game that I will play in. I will do all I can whether I go abroad or play in the women’s Korea league .
Q. Many people anticipate Ji will be a pioneer in women’s soccer. What are your thoughts about that?
A. Park Ji-sung is a pioneer of men’s soccer. Due to Park, many soccer players can advance easier to join soccer leagues like the English Premier League. I want to learn about Park’s achievement and to be like Park in women’s soccer . I think that if I go abroad and adapt well, my juniors also do well. It is my work to move forward and I will push through.
Q. Give some advice to junior women soccer players.
A. Ordinary parents do not wish their daughters to be soccer players. Women soccer players including me will show their progressive appearance, so parents will support their children who want to play soccer. To my juniors, do not give up your dreams.