Posted September. 28, 2010 13:02,
"It was so fun to watch!"
One person who showed keener attention than anyone else to the final of the FIFA Under-17 Women`s World Cup, in which South Korea defeated Japan, was the head coach of the men`s national team, Cho Kwang-rae.
"Time flew. I found so many elements male players need to learn, including their attitude toward playing the game," Cho said.
In a country with just 1,450 registered female players, women`s soccer has shaken off public indifference and drawn newfound attention in the wake of a string of successes, including a third-place finish at the U-20 World Cup last month and the U-17 World Cup title Saturday.
Fans are unanimous in saying women`s soccer is just as exciting as men`s. The following is expert analyses of the merits of women`s soccer.
○ Beautiful and delicate
"Women play soccer beautifully," said the coach of the national women`s soccer team, Choi In-cheol, who is famous for complimenting women`s soccer. Women lag behind men in power, speed and agility but play delicate and beautiful soccer, he said.
The foundation of "beautiful soccer" is basic skills, he said. Women tend to follow this principle even when passing, and thus present a different kind of attractiveness compared with men`s soccer, which is bolder and more dynamic.
How is such a playing style possible? Park Ki-bong, the soccer coach of Yeoju Institute of Technology, said, "This is because women show a smaller difference in individual potential."
"Many men have big potential to become great players only if they maximize a couple of their special skills. But it`s difficult for women players, whose athletic performance is similar, to do the same."
He added, "Women players show a significant difference in performance if they start playing soccer even a year later. As such, we focus on training them in the basics from the time they`re young."
Lee Sang-yeop, coach of Hanyang Women`s University, emphasized the delicateness unique to women. "I`m often alarmed to see women players reveal delicateness in every single move," he said. "I think such delicateness coupled with beautiful looks make women`s soccer beautiful."
○ More offense, fewer fouls
Goals are the bread and butter of soccer, and the women`s game entails more scoring. Women players get fans excited through seamless offense-focused play.
Compared to the men`s U-17 World Cup team last year, which scored an average of 1.44 goals per match, the U-17 women this year had a higher average of 1.95 goals. Women`s soccer also generates more shots on goal than men`s soccer.
Lying behind offense-focused play is relatively weak defense. SBS soccer commentator Park Moon-sung said, "Women players have limited physical stamina and cannot endure the strong pressure throughout a match. Since they lag in agility, they are also weak in physical competition to secure flying balls, which is an essential trait in defense."
Another reason for more goals in women`s soccer is that women goalies are behind their male counterparts in physical condition and agility, two characteristics essential to this position.
Leading figures in women`s soccer also like a more offensive game. Lee Mi-yeon, coach of the women`s military team Busan Sangmu, said, "In women`s soccer, it`s inherently impossible to play a game through a strategy meant to keep the lead by one or two goals only. So we strive to discover strikers and develop tactics to be more offensive."
The women`s game is also less physical and has fewer fouls. SBS soccer commentator Yoon Jong-seok said, "Since women`s soccer involves fewer fouls, games flow more seamlessly. As players engage themselves in a more offense-focused game through short passes, fans get more easily engrossed in games."
As for the world champion under-17 women`s soccer team, the squad has left Trinidad and Tobago and will arrive at Incheon International Airport at 4:50 p.m. Tuesday after stopovers in New York and Washington.
A welcoming ceremony at the airport will await the team and then members will attend a luncheon at the presidential office Wednesday.