Former Army colonel gets into the Korean game
October 21, 2007
Dan Wilson, a soccer enthusiast and former Army colonel who’s been stationed in South Korea for several years, said anyone interested in soccer can find a thriving amateur league and plenty of opportunities to watch professional matches.
“Go out along the river, or to the Korean schools on the weekends and you will find amateur teams playing,” Wilson said. “Some are organized by their companies, some are just groups of friends.”
Wilson said many ex-pats also play on the weekends and troops are welcome. (For more information, visit http://ssflkorea.com/)
“This is a great way to get out of the barracks, get a different view of Korea, and have some healthy fun,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the toughest part of watching the professional games is finding out in advance when and where the games will be held.
“(Stars and Stripes) does not cover soccer in Korea at all — not even when we have worldwide international competitions going on,” he said.
Wilson said other English-language papers in Korea do a better job of reporting the results, “so they are good at telling you what you missed.”
Local United Service Organizations’ officers might have information on games, Wilson said, and sometimes even offer discounted tickets.
Wilson said K-League tickets are inexpensive compared to what one would pay in the United States or Europe, but without a Korean-issued credit card, it’s impossible to pre-order tickets.
The games are rarely sold out, though Wilson said that exhibition matches between K-League teams and European powerhouses like Manchester United “sell out in a matter of hours.”
Wilson said watching a professional game is a fun experience and very family friendly. No fights, no beer tossing, and even applauding opposing teams for good plays are the norm at K-League matches.
Wilson remembers the Koreans handing out the flags for the other teams during the 2002 World Cup.
“I attended the Costa Rica versus Turkey game, and each side had a section of Koreans waving their flags and cheering for them,” he said.
While the South Korean game is fast — with lots of running and less physical action than Western- style soccer — Wilson said it’s still the same game.
“That is one of the beauties of soccer,” he said.