Subject: East Timor Football Champs in Seoul

Korea Times

East Timor Football Champs in Seoul

By Ryu Jin Staff Reporter

East Timor's youth football team on Thursday made a visit to the ROK Special Forces Command, the mother-body of the now-disbanded ``Sangnoksu Unit'' which operated in the newly independent nation as a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The under-14 football team, led by South Korean head coach Kim Shin-hwan, came to Seoul on Monday after winning the championship in the recent international soccer matches in Hiroshima, Japan.

The visit was arranged at the request of the 16 young soccer players, who witnessed the Sangnoksu Unit's activities in their country from October 1999 to October 2003. The unit earned a good reputation for the ROK forces overseas, giving hopes and dreams to the poverty-stricken country by teaching football and taekwondo, the Korean martial art.

Created just a year ago, the East Timorese youth team made a miraculous achievement by winning all six games in the international youth soccer matches without losing a single point.

``I was choked with tears at the moment when our team became the champion,'' Shin said. ``The faces of the people who had helped us flitted through my mind.''

Made up of third- to sixth-grade students in elementary schools, the team went through a hard training program for the past whole year with the lofty mission of encouraging the East Timorese people.

It might have not been able to participate in the Hiroshima games without the help of many, according to officials. Besides the special interest shown by Xanana Gusmao, president of East Timor, the South Korean embassy in the capital city of Dili as well as Asiana Airlines and other Korean organizations gave financial and other support to the team.

The young soccer players will leave Korea on Friday after having fun at the Lotte World amusement park in southern Seoul.

04-01-2004 19:30

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