- Kim Jungmi on hand at the Ulsan leg of Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour
- Expects Korea Republic to increase preparations with France 2019 close
- Goalkeeper hopes a good World Cup will inspire more girls to play
The FIFA Women’s World Cup™ Trophy is gleaming in the sunshine outside the Ulsan World Cup Stadium, a venue steep in heritage having hosted three men’s FIFA World Cup™ games in 2002.
Korea Republic’s men’s side were in town to play Bolivia in a friendly, but before that all eyes were on the women’s Trophy, with two women’s internationals – goalkeeper Kim Jungmi and Player of the Year Jang Selgi, both in attendance.
With FIFA, the Korean FA (KFA) and partners Hyundai also on hand, there was a swell of media interest – many of which hoping to get an insight into preparations for the upcoming trip to France from the pair of national team stars.
For Kim, this will be her third World Cup having played in Canada in 2015 and been part of the squad as an 18-year-old in 2003.
Seeing the trophy up close, alongside the media scrum that surrounded her and Jang, made the goalkeeper realise just how fast the tournament is approaching.
“Before the trophy came to Ulsan, I thought there was still a lot of time until the World Cup, but now I realise I have to up my preparation,” Kim admitted. “I feel in a hurry to be ready for this summer.”
The South Koreans will open the World Cup against hosts France, with tricky ties against Norway and Nigeria to follow. Kim, who has over 100 caps for country, will have to face the likes of exceptional attacking talents Eugenie Le Sommer (France), Asisat Oshoala (Nigeria) and Caroline Graham Hansen (Norway) in the group stages. But having grown up in an environment where it is perceived that football is perhaps not for girls, she has certainly faced tough challenges – especially as a goalkeeper.
“Many people think the sport is for men, but when women play football I think it’s awesome. Every goalkeeper is the same, pressure is linked to conceding a goal. But it’s up to me and my coach to overcome that pressure.”
Korea Republic’s ability to keep the ball and wear down their opposition with a possession-based style of football could be a way to relieve some of that pressure on Kim and her defence. The Incheon Red Angels stopper described their style of play as “high level,” comparing it to Asian neighbours Korea DPR, Japan and Australia.
With players like Jang, Chelsea’s Ji Soyun and captain Cho Sohyun at West Ham, Korea Republic has plenty of talent to call upon. Kim is hopeful that they, plus a step up in preparations, will see her side perform well in France, and hopefully encourage more women and girls to play the sport in her home country.
“In Korea, the women’s football foundation is very small – not many women play football,” she said. “But if we play well at the World Cup, many people will watch that, many people will get motivation, and that means more women and children will want to play football.”