Saturday, October 8, 2011

축구친구 (Chukku Chinku)

Ladies and Gentlemen, today is a day that will live in infamy. Today is the day that the Lord has made. Today, I have succeeded in my capacity as Unofficial American Liaison to Koreans in All Things Women’s Sports (or UALKATWS if you’re Dutch CRC and love your acronyms nearly as much as you love your windmills).

Today, I played soccer.

And today, about thirty Korean guys learned that women can play—and enjoy—soccer.

The sun was shining—well, since I had to get up at 5am in order to make the 7am call, it wasn’t shining at first—and a cool October breeze sifted the air as the games began. We started with short-sided games on almost-cement-partly-turf and 족구 (Jokgu), Korea’s version of SoccerTennisVolleyball.[1] At first I was patronized—even a failed shot got a “nice-u! nice-u!” from my overly nice-u teammates.

But finally, after I’d executed a few kill-shots of my own and provided serious scoring impetus in the full-field scrimmage, the empty nice-u’s changed. Instead, I got real symbols of inclusion.

These pictures are unrelated. But I like them. Asians always
want to take pictures with the white people, so I'm starting
a new trend for us white people, and I've just started asking
Asians to take pictures with me.
      1.      The High-Five. This is entry-level acceptance; the bare bones of sporting inclusion; a small, but important step.
      2.      Water Tossing. Koreans are remarkable in their determination to ignore how unsanitary it is to share things they’ve touched with their mouths. Luckily, I am similarly unsanitary myself, so I had no qualms about chucking the water bottles back and forth with guys who can’t understand a word I say.
      3.      The Raised Hand, Dropped Face. You know what I’m talking about. It’s sign language for “my bad” and everyone knows it, everyone uses it. Perfect for a late pass, a hard knock, or a missed goal.

And—even though they probably would have said the same thing if I scored an own-goal, tripped on my shoe strings, or maybe just sat on the ball giggling—it was nice to hear, “You very good. Come back next week?”

This is either a typo are a personal message
to me. And you!
With the sun still yet to make its full appearance, as I walked to the field with Gyu—my liaison for all things soccer and helpful translator—he told me that this was the first time any of them had ever played soccer with a girl. “Girls here don’t like soccer,” he explained. “They don’t even like boys who play soccer because we spend too much time doing it.” He was the one that explained that the others wanted me to come back next week. “He says you have good position,” he explained a couple times. And, “They say you have very good control. Good passing.” (Thank heavens no one mentioned my dribbling, or lackthereof.)

Not a bad way to spend my Saturday morning. Now I’m going to nurse the my swollen ankle, scraped leg, and goose-egged shin back to health with cookies and an afternoon nap.

[1] It is very popular in the Korean military; you could tell who had already done their military service by their expertise at spiking the ball.

For more information, this video is pretty great:

1 comment:

  1. This was awesome. I am so glad you finally got to play football. Maybe you'll be the one to bring it to the women of Korea.