This is a series introducing associations and clubs for expats. This week, Expat Living spoke to SSFL chair Daniel Behrendt ― Ed.
― Name of Club: Seoul Sunday Football League
― Location(s): Throughout Seoul, Suwon, Anyang, Cheongju and Incheon. In the past, teams have been based in Osan, Daejeon, Goyang and other cities in Korea.
― Number of members: 450 across 20 teams and 3 divisions.
― Started: 2001 by Darren Barber of Incheon Red Dogs & Daniel Behrendt of Seoul British Football Club. The other two founding teams were St. Pat’s Football Club, and Soccer N Love, a Korean team.
Who is it for? Foreigners and Koreans living in Korea with an interest in both social and competitive football. The League consists of English teachers, executives, entrepreneurs and players range in age from 17 to 46. Soccer tends to be a universal language, great cardiovascular exercise and a means of expression.
Newcomers to Korea are often lost when it comes to identifying and locating affordable athletic opportunities or a group of friends to interact with outside of work. For them, the League provides great social time and networking. For those who come from competitive college and university programs, the League ensures that they have an opportunity to keep in shape and play with and against like-minded individuals. Last year, we had two players that went on to contracts in Korea’s top division, with one of them playing in the K-League finals. For many foreigners in Korea, the League also gives them a healthy environment to interact with Koreans and vice-versa. Even without a common language, football allows them to communicate and breakdown those barriers that might otherwise exist.
What goes on? The league has a spring and fall season, with promotion and demotion between divisions at the end of each season. At the end of each season, the league has a banquet to “crown” each division champion and provide divisional golden boots and awards for the season’s best goalkeeper, defender and midfielder. There is a loose collection of volunteers that provide guidance on scheduling, referee recruitment, the addition of new teams and other issues.
Plans for the future? We’d like to add additional teams and players to the League, additional referees, create a formal entity to serve the League, add a women’s division and secure sponsors to benefit the 450 players along with their families and friends, as well provide funding for the above.
How to join? Interested players and teams may contact the League Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Membership fees: Fees vary, but they are typically lower per player than a month’s gym membership.