Football fanatics battle Japan, and the odds
When Korea played Japan in 2003, it was crushed 88 to nothing. It’ll have to do better for a 2011 Cup berth.
It’s a tranquil Sunday morning, April 25, and all is quiet on the campus of Chung-Ang University in southwestern Seoul – or it would be if not for the defensive coach screaming, “Do you guys want to start practice by running a hundred laps? Go through your warm-ups and get in place!”
The players lumber around in response as quickly as they can, weighed down by their heavy padding. So begins the second round of tryouts for Korea’s national American football team.
The sport is rarely played outside the United States, but 75 players still showed up to start out down the long and difficult road to the 2011 International Federation of American Football Senior World Championships. The list will eventually be trimmed down to a final 45-man roster.
Head coach Tatsuhide Fukuda stands on the sidelines, his eyes fixated on the group of hopefuls, mostly university team members and amateurs. Amid the sound of the whistles and the cracks of helmet on helmet, the third-generation Korean-Japanese coach – his Korean name is Kim Yong-soo, though he doesn’t use it – is carefully making mental notes of the talent at his disposal. He seems far from pleased.