Star football players from Korea and Japan will play
박지성 “베트남 축구 꿈나무에 희망 주겠다”
Korean football star Park Ji-sung is set to participate in a charity football match in Vietnam tonight to help boost the development of the sport in Asia.
The 30-year-old Manchester United midfielder will join 15 other footballers in an “Asian Dream Cup” football match against Vietnamese club Navibank Saigon at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City tonight.
The match is sponsored by Korean company Doosan Heavy Industries and is the first project of JS Foundation, a charity foundation Park established in February. The foundation previously announced plans to hold annual charity football matches around Asia.
Park said he chose Vietnam to be the foundation’s first destination because many people told him that football is really popular there.
The former Korean national team captain also added that the Southeast Asian nation caught his eye because it used to be divided, like Korea is today.
“I want to give hope to young kids in Vietnam who love football,” Park said on Monday at Incheon International Airport before departing to Vietnam. “Asian football is growing fast and the gap between the football powerhouses [and less-developed football nations] is getting closer. If I can give Asian players some kind of motivation, I think they will have the desire to become great football players.”
Meanwhile, Park’s JS Foundation said that all revenue from the charity football match will be donated to help youth players in Vietnam. The foundation also said it will expand its youth football development program and support cultural exchanges for football players around Asia.
Prior to the charity match, JS Foundation held a youth football clinic yesterday, with more than a thousand people gathered to watch Park and other football players teach some skills to 60 youth players. The foundation also invited Korean idol group JYJ and actress Han Hye-jin to promote the match in Vietnam.
Park will play with several Korea national team members – such as AS Monaco striker Park Chu-young, Bolton Wanders winger Lee Chung-yong, Celtic FC midfielder Ki Sung-yueng and national-team retiree Lee Young-pyo – as well as some of his Japanese football friends. They include former Japanese international Kazuyoshi Miura, Hidetoshi Nakata, a 34-year-old retired two-time AFC Player of the Year winner and Grenoble FC midfielder Daisuke Matsui, who once played with Park on the Kyoto Purple Sanga of the J-League.
Miura is considered the face of Japanese football after scoring 55 goals for his country in international competitions. He still plays for Yokohama FC at 44-years-old.
Park said he also contacted Korean football player Koo Ja-cheol to join him in Vietnam, but Koo’s German club, Wolfsburg, denied his request to go.
In addition, Park’s closest Manchester United teammate, Patrice Evra, said he will not be able to join Park due to commitments with the French national team. The 30-year-old left back was invited but promised Park he would play in next year’s charity match.
Korean-Japanese Jong Tae-se, who plays for German club Vfl Bochum – internationally for North Korea – was also invited by Park but is not expected to play in the game due to a right knee injury. He will, however, travel with the charity squad.
Park said he personally contacted the players via phone and e-mail and asked them to participate. He added that he hopes the star-studded charity football match will be a catalyst for Asian football development.
By Joo Kyung-don [email@example.com]