Captain Cho Sohyun 'I will improve further'
Date : 2017.01.07
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Cho who signed a loan contract with Japanese side Kobe Inac in January 2016 has returned to Korea. Cho played as a midfielder for Kobe and contributed to their victory of Empress Cup. When the return to Incheon Hyundai Steel was decided, Kobe players did not really want let Cho go.
The trophy of the Empress Cup was like a Christmas gift for Cho. Cho played a full time on that day and Kobe defeated Albirex Nigata on the penalty shoot-out. Kobe players congratulated Cho's successful year after the match.
Cho has returned to Korea with improved confidence. She already look forward to playing for the new season. As a 30 years old, Cho is a veteran player in women's football. But Cho emphasized that she still wants to learn and grow up.
- How was your life in Japan?
It was actually less than a year. After the Empress Cup match, I got on the plane. I wish I could stay longer. It was an opportunity to live alone for the first time. The training ground was 10 minutes away by a subway. It took 20 minutes by a bicycle. I had a lot of free time so that I was able to study Japanese, English and even French! I am not sure how I will fit the group life in Korea when the new season starts.
- Japanese league is one of the leading leagues in women's football. What were the differences?
In Japan, there is a big salary gap among competitive players, less competitive players, veteran players and new players. As WK League has a salary cap players' salaries are similar. On average, you could say that WK League players get more money. In terms of motivation, the Japanese system seems to be a bit better.
- It seem that there are many of part-time players in Japan
All of Kobe players were full-time status but other teams have a number of part-time players. If you are not a high profile player you need to find another job in Japan. Most players work in a business related to club sponsors. I think that it is possible to have a virtuous cycle as the base is wide.
- How was the training in Japan?
There is more freedom in Japan. We received a monthly schedule and get trained for certain hours. After that, you are on your own. Players live independently and younger players live in a single room at a dormitory. No one would care if you have a beer or not. If you don't control yourself that is your own loss.
A coach selects the starting 11 based on performance on the training. You have to show 100% of your performance at the training. The training itself is really intense and fast. You would be surprised.
- New Korean players- Choi Yeseul and Hong Hyeji joined Kobe
We spent some time together. I would have helped them If I was there. I told them to stay strong with confidence.
- Was settling difficult?
It was very hard at the beginning. Japanese football shares a philosophy of fast and accurate passing play. It was not easy to follow their tempo. There was a language barrier too. But it was helpful studying Japanese before the season. My Japanese got better as time goes. Now I can communicate in Japanese without much trouble. Teammates helped me a lot.
-How did you feel when you said goodbye to teammates?
When I announced the news, Kyokawa Mai cried a lot. She was my best friend in the team. I did not want to make her sad. At the end, we played the Empress Cup final knowing my return to Korea. It was a good finish. At the dinner party, all the team member including the coach gave me hand-written letters. It was so touching.
- How did you improve in Japan?
I learned a lot. Especially, I was able to broad my knowledge of marketing and club operation. Japanese clubs work hard to engage with fans. Players also actively participate in promotional activities. WK League should learn from that.
I was a player who has strength in physical power and stamina. But I tried to improve my techniques in Japan. The coach wrote in the letter that I have improved a lot last 12 months. I appreciate him saying such a thing. I am relatively older in women's football but I can improve more. I like this idea.
- You used to be compared to Gattuso because of your combat play style. Now, are you turning into Pirlo?
Pirlo! I like him very much. A fan in Japan gave me a uniform which was signed by Pirlo. There was even my name on it. It was so touching. I worked hard to play delicately. I wish I had another year in Japan.
- You became 30 years old. how do you take it?
I find it Interesting. I don't really care about my age. As I get older, I find my football more interesting. I just kept running when I was young. Now I think and make a judgement while I run. My boyfriend told me that I try too hard. He said that only Messi can do everything well and even Messi makes a mistake! I cannot help it. I will keep going forward and improving.
Words: Kwon Taejeong
English translation: Cho Keonho
Photo: FA Photos