On July 24, 11 players and three coaches from Rising Star Football Academy in Ulsan embarked on a quest as the first team to enter the Norway Cup from the Republic of Korea.
With a journey full of unforgettable experiences in front of us, we couldn’t wait to get started.
The Norway Cup is an international football tournament for youths aged 10-19, held each year in Oslo since 1972. Teams from all over the world, like ourselves, fly in to participate in the largest youth football tournament of its kind in the world.
Having joined the opening parade, we had an early night to prepare for the games ahead. Our first opponents were a Norwegian team called Bremnes IL. We lost 4-1, despite chasing the game well with the match finely balanced at 2-1 until the final five minutes. Nonetheless, a strong performance and a beautiful goal by Kaua Leite pleased all the coaches and we left the pitch smiling.
Norwegian football and Korean football are like night and day. We were not used to the Norwegian rules and way of playing ― games were far more physical, and fewer stoppages by the referee allowed games to flow, something we had to adjust to.
|The Rising Star Football Academy’s Norway Cup team poses for a group photo. From left, back row: Anna Sandvik Gloppen, Marte Nodset, Olly Corfield, Jack Cook, Tobias Fauske and Taewoo Kim. From left, front row: Anita Eek, Kaua Leite, Eugene Park, Rasmus Wend Sandgren and coach James McAloon. In front is goalkeeper Gustaf Malo. (RSFA)|
Waking up at 6 a.m. with jet lag wasn’t the easiest task either, but everybody was excited to get going with another day.
Our second game was played on AstroTurf, which is what we are used to in Korea, so we thought we would have an advantage. However, we played poorly compared to what we knew we are capable of, and were down by seven against a strong team called Ravn IL. Our mood was lifted at the end by a superb goal by Kim Tae-woo, who received the ball midfield with his back to goal, chipped it over an opponent, ran toward the goal and slotted the ball calmly into the net; easily our best goal that week.
Our fourth day was by far the busiest. Kim Tae-woo was selected to play in a Norway Cup International select 11 against Liverpool Football School. He was coached for the day by Serbian football legend Bojan Zajic, and Liverpool FS was coached by Liverpool legends Sammy Lee and Ray Clemence. The Norway Cup Team won 6-2, with Tae-woo playing all but five minutes.
Prior to this, we drew 2-2 in a friendly, with goals from Eugene Park and Rasmus Saangreen. We lost our next game 4-0 in a familiar story of dominating the game without scoring. With the game still finely balanced at half time 1-0, we played well, pressing high, hitting the bar and post only to concede late goals as we became stretched.
Pushing on to the knockout stages, we dominated the game against Lambertseter IL, peppering their goal in the second half with the score at 1-1, but a minor mistake led to a goal for the other team and we lost 2-1.
As we were out of the tournament, a weight was lifted and the goals started to go in. We played two more friendlies, beating Lebanon’s WA Academy 9-1 (Kaua Leiti 4, Olly Corfield 3, Anna Gloppen 1 and Eugene Park 1) and drawing 3-3 against Bardu IL, who had topped their group early on, with two goals from Olly Cornfield and one from Anna Gloppen. We also played a friendly against Arsenal FS USA, but the game was abandoned due to bad light.
With 11 players from seven different countries representing a team based in Korea, we received a lot of attention. Several times we were asked how we could be a team with people from so many different nations and why we all were living in Korea.
While many of us looked Norwegian, only four of us actually were, and this added to the confusion. Many people walked up to our group and began speaking to us in the local language.
Team meetings became an important part of our routine, allowing the players and coaches to discuss what we had learned from our endeavors. These were both serious and hilarious. It was everything from deep discussion on the games to, “who can look the most ridiculous” fashion shows, which had everybody laughing.
In between the football we spent time sightseeing, swimming, watching the UEFA U19 Women’s European Championship Final at the Norwegian national stadium and much more.
By Marte Nodset
Marte Nordset, 13, is from Forde, Norway, and was part of the RSFA team that went to the Norway Cup. If other teams would like to find out about joining the Norway Cup 2015, please contact James McAloon, RSFA head coach, via firstname.lastname@example.org or 010-3529-9451. ― Ed.