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Married Women Basketball Players Miss Family Life

Posted April. 12, 2007 07:57,   


A famous episode in Korean basketball concerns late Yoon Deok-joo, known as the “godmother of the court.”

In the championship finals with Kyeongjeon Gurakbu in 1947, Yoon of Sookmyung Gurakbu ran toward the audience’s seats after the first half to breastfeed her two-year-old second daughter. In the second half, she led her team to win the game and become MVP.

Is such passion for the game shared by the women players of today?

In the women’s pro basketball winter league, married women players struggle to play active parts in both their games and their families.

Jeon Joo-won (35), the oldest player in Korea’s women’s basketball league, led her team, Shinhan Bank, to the league title. She went back home only twice during the three-month season to see her husband, Jeong Yeong-ryeol (36), and her three-year-old daughter Su-bin.

Reunited with her family after winning the championship, Jeon had to leave for Japan to receive knee surgery on April 10.

She said, “Su-bin cried, saying, ‘don’t go, mom.’ I was crying inside.”

A Painful Parting with Family during Training Camp–

Jeon, who lives 5-minutes walking distance from her mother-in-law’s house, said, “I feel sorry whenever I have to ask my mother-in-law for child care. I am doing something impossible without my family’s sacrifice.” She has not loosened her self-control and taken her daughter to training camp once.

Park Jeong-eun (30) and Lee Jong-ae (32), both of Samsung Life, which finished second, are married. Park’s husband is Han Sang-jin (30), a TV actor recently featured in the popular drama “White Giant Tower.” Park hardly went back home during the season and moved into a house in Yongin near the team’s training camp last weekend. She said, “My husband wanted to make me comfortable.” Park’s mother-in-law told her to visit her parents’ house in Busan and rest well. Park had to give up on her Southeast Asia travel plans as she was called to join the national team this weekend. She said, “My husband is now in low spirits. I don’t know what to do.”

Lee got married in 2002 after dating her husband for 5 years. These days, she is pleased to make dinner for her husband. This weekend, she is planning to visit Ganghwa Island where she went with her husband 100 days after she met him.

Other married women players Kim Yeong-ok (Kookmin Bank) and Hong Jeong-ae (Kumho Life) joined their team’s camps this week after a short break.

The career span of women’s basketball players is getting longer, but the environment for married women players is still not quite encouraging. The U.S. Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) allows sufficient free time and a shorter training period. Those are dreamlike conditions for Korean women players. Cheers to Korea’s married women basketballers!