South Korea women’s national team captain Cho So-hyun says she feels “ashamed of improvements” in women’s football at home, believing that things are “getting worse”.
The midfielder leads her team to the Asian Cup this month, looking for success after the country failed to reach the knockout round four years ago.
Cho, who plays her club football in England at Tottenham, sees the tournament as “the best opportunity” to show how good her team can be, despite her feelings about the game in Korea.
What was said?
Speak with GOAL in an exclusive interview, Cho said: “I am ashamed of improvements in K-football because I feel it is going backwards since every Korean young professional player moves abroad.
“Young players who play elite and pro, the number is not really high. In the long run, I don’t think it shows a big improvement.
“The women’s football teams in Europe are improving a lot, but compared to Asian competitions, the training program is definitely different.
“For the self-improvement [for Korean players], I recommend going to European competitions. I’m not saying that Asian players can’t play football well, but I’m saying that they should improve their skills and improve the physical [abilities], to improve both sides, I think it’s much better to go and play and experience a team abroad.”
‘I wanted to inform people about the situation in Korea’
Cho is one of three Korean stars to play for a club in England alongside Chelsea midfielder Ji So-yun and Brighton forward Lee Geum-min.
Asked if she believes players like herself and her high-profile teammates can do anything to help the situation at home, she said she spoke about the structure around elite teams and the dense football pyramid England has compared to Korea.
“In England, the local football teams are always competitive and that has always helped them to improve more,” she explained. “If we have local football teams, it means we can also improve local financial affairs and so on.
“The boys’ soccer teams in Korea have different types, from the amateur to the elite. They are trying their best to find out which player they have, but in Korea for the women’s soccer team, I don’t think they are trying their best.”
Cho spoke of the SingaCup, an event in Singapore that gives young boys and girls the opportunity to participate in various football activities. She explained that one of the reasons she got involved was to shed light on how things are going at home for young footballers.
“I really wanted to inform [people of] what the current situation is in Korea,” said the 33-year-old. “I also wondered how the foreigners also look at the Korean football team.”
Cho and her team will have the chance this month to showcase Korea’s potential and how good it could be with more support, with the Asian Cup kicking off on January 20.
Korea takes on Vietnam in their opening game a day later, with Myanmar also in Group C with them alongside reigning champions Japan.
“I think this is the best chance I have,” Cho said. “If I can get the girls far, it means I can show the strength of an Asian women’s football team. I really want to do my best for that.”