By Lee Ji-jin Lee = Kim Hye-ri (Incheon Hyundai Steel), captain of the women’s national football team, has a reason to be excited about the 2023 FIFA World Cup.

The women’s football industry is growing around the world, but Korea is somewhat out of the loop.

The success of the SBS TV show “Goal Girls” (Goal Girls) has led to more women kicking the ball in futsal and other sports, but the number of professional players is lower than it was 10 years ago.

As of May, there were 1,510 female players registered with the Korea Football Association. This is more than 200 fewer than in 2014 (1,765).

In particular, the number of professional girls has been declining. From 1,341 in 2014, the number dropped to 916 in 2020, and since then, it has risen slightly, barely hovering around the 1,000 mark.

At a press conference at Sydney Football Stadium in New South Wales, Australia, on the afternoon of the 24th, Kim blamed this “stagnation” on the national team’s poor performance.

“I think the ‘boom’ in women’s football in South Korea hasn’t happened because our adult national team hasn’t performed well,” Kim said.

“I feel a great sense of responsibility. I hope that by performing well here, there will be more girls playing football in Korea.”

The 23-player squad, led by captain Kim Hye-ri, will take on Colombia in their World Cup Group H opener at the stadium on 25 June at 11am local time.

For Kim, the responsibility is particularly heavy because of the heartbreak she experienced at the previous World Cup in France in 2019.

The team lost their first match 0-4 against the hosts, France, and lost all of their remaining matches to crash out of the group stage.

“I think we’ve been preparing well for four years,” says Kim Hye-ri. “Our main goal is to win against Colombia and get through the group stage. If we make it through the group stage, we will reach a place where Korean women’s football has not yet been.”바카라사이트

The team, which is aiming to reach the round of 16 for the first time in eight years, needs three points against Colombia to gain an advantage.

With FIFA No. 2 Germany the ‘favourites’ in Group H, they need to break the Colombians’ momentum as they battle for second place in the group.

“We are ready to give 100 per cent, 120 per cent from the first game,” said Kim Hye-ri.

It’s not just Kim who hopes to use the tournament to revive Korean women’s football.

“We want to achieve as much as we can,” said head coach Colin Bell, “and we’re looking forward to taking on the challenges that come our way.”

“We know that our women’s situation (at the Games) will have a powerful impact on the culture of Korea. I believe we can do well, and I want to give something back to the people of Korea.”

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