“It’s not cold at all whenever I play soccer!” said a student, Lee Ha-bin, at an outdoor futsal field at Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul, on Saturday morning. The 9-year-old smiled amid the severe cold with the temperature of minus 10 degrees Celsius. Twelve third graders in elementary schools practiced passing and shooting with a coach at a soccer class held at the futsal field.
After Korea’s national soccer team entered the knockout stage at the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar in 12 years, the level of interest in soccer soared in Korea. Even though winter is off-season, futsal courts in Seoul bustled with crowds of adults and children who came to play a soccer game.
“Ha-bin was so impressed by Son Heung-min, who played hard despite his injury and said he would become a football player,” said Ha-bin’s father.
The children’s soccer class was followed by the futsal game of the soccer club members. “Lionel Messi’s footwork lighted me on fire with passion,” an office worker Kang San (aged 29) said. “I called my friends to kick a ball after a long time.”
Kim Jun-gil, a 60-year-old man, also visited the futsal court after the Qatar World Cup, which reminded him of his old memory of enjoying soccer. “I learned how to make reservations for a futsal field from my brother because I was itching to play soccer,” Kim said. “I feel so energetic after playing with young people of my son’s age.”
The statistics also show people’s passion for soccer. The number of usages of around 60 futsal courts registered in Seoul city’s public reservation system increased 81 percent in November year-on-year to 2,903. The number reached 2,458 this month, as of Dec. 13.
“The number of visitors to futsal fields increased thanks to World Cup, which ended successfully and the lifted social distancing rules,” said an official of the Seoul Metropolitan Government. “Due to the popularity of the World Cup, the demand for the futsal stadium is not falling despite winter, which is the low season for the court,” said a member of a futsal reservation platform.