Cricket expands its horizons in South Korea
A boom in player numbers has resulted in a record number of teams playing in this year's Seoul competition and the likely creation of the country's first league outside Seoul.
Such is the demand, Korea Cricket Association officials had originally omitted three teams. However, the unexpected acquisition of a second ground at Ajou University in Suwon has allowed all 13 teams to play.
KCA official, Daami Cagney, attributed the increase to several factors: "2009 saw a lot more awareness of cricket in Korea through several events throughout last year - the Sixes tournament, junior coaching clinics as well as elementary and high school clinics. There are also more ex-pats living in South Korea than ever before, and the network is likewise expanding - information gets around."
Ulsan, on the southern coast, is likely to become the second city in South Korea next year to have its own competition. "A group of mostly expats with some Koreans have been playing cricket for several years in the Gyoungsangname province, mostly out of the city of Ulsan. The standard has mostly been 'backyard' or 'street' cricket. The plan is that they take this year to sort things out, develop an appropriate organisational structure, and commence a competition next year," Cagney said.
The KCA’s attempts to build on the progress achieved last year in junior development through visits to elementary and high schools in the Seoul/ Gyounggi Province region will only be slowed temporarily for the football World Cup.
"Interest from organisations at the junior level has faltered somewhat in the lead-up to the World Cup, which stops the nation every four years. From what we have observed, cricket is not the only sport that suffers during this period. However, from the end of the summer vacation in August, there will be a drive to boost cricket's awareness even more. This drive will target local sports academies and schools, and will be pitched as not just sport, but a 'cultural/ language' experience - the idea being the obsession of English language education may be a good way to give younger students an opportunity to experience cricket." Cagney said