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[Opinion] Park Joo-young

Posted January. 28, 2005 22:55,   


Once again, soccer is lifting our spirits, this time due to Park Joo-young (20, Korea University). Whether at home or at work, people are debating on whether or not he should join the national team immediately. “Not yet, he needs to build his physical strength some more,” “What are you talking about; Wayne Rooney, the soccer genius of the English national team, is only 20 as well,” “Soccer consists of team play; how can one score a goal when his teammates do not give him the ball?” “Gosh, Choi Soon-ho made the national team at age 19…” At this point, everybody is a soccer analyst.

“King of the Game” Pele met the legendary Brazilian soccer coach Waldemar de Brito at the age of 13. This is when he opened his eyes to the world of soccer. Waldemar was very strict. He was known to order his players to refrain from smoking, drinking, and reading the sports news, and also to go to bed on time. The reason he prohibited them from reading the sports section of the newspaper was that, “You may fall into self-conceit if you read about yourselves in the paper (an excerpt taken from ‘Korea is Soccer,’ Kim Hwa-sung, 2002).”

It is not rare to see talented young players wither away once exposed to the media. A player who performs well in an international competition is not only bombarded with requests for interviews, but is also invited to various show programs, and after a few appearances on those shows, the ambitious look in a player’s eyes seems to go bleary. Eventually, the coaches practically beg the media to “leave our boys alone.” In a way, protection from the media is the first barrier to overcome on the road to success.

Park Joo-young is not an exception. Of course, it will be important for him to meet a good mentor as in Pele’s case, but isolating him from the media seems to be a more crucial matter. Nothing is more stressful to a player than excessive attention and expectations. What if the media makes a mutual pact to “stay away from Park Joo-young”? Let us discuss Park Joo-young’s future when all the fuss is over. If we can’t trust Korean experts, how about asking foreign experts first on when they think he should join the national team? At any moment, we might be damaging a good player.

Lee Jae-ho, Editorial Writer, leejaeho@donga.com