Thoughts from my Zanzibar Trip

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The trip was more than just exploring the island’s beauty and its unique culture as a Tanzanian archipelago. In fact, I flew over to intentionally interact with the people of Zanzibar, more specifically, the lovers of the beautiful game.

This trip was my second time in Zanzibar. My first trip was an ordinary family trip in which I did not have any specific expectations. The island, however, left me with an extraordinary impression in my mind’s eye of so many people in love with football. It was then that I knew I needed to come again with a different purpose.

Three and a half years later, I was given an opportunity to coach five middle schools and a women’s team. It was a great opportunity for me to go again, interact with the Zanzibaris, and share the passion for the game.

The reality of coaching was way beyond my expectations and I was challenged each day with a series of hurdles: the field condition, weather conditions, not enough balls, too many players, and worst of all, COMMUNICATION. It was tough for both players and me with my poor Swahili. The translator was not as helpful and I was very limited in what I wanted to say so it was discouraging not being able to give more helpful advice and share how football impacted my life. It was not easy trying to adjust and improvise my way out of the day, everyday.

Football is very popular in Zanzibar. The island upholds an unique football culture of its own. Any flat landscape is a field to any age group or gender. You will not go a day without seeing people playing football. Football jerseys of nearly any club in Europe are found in almost any store you run into. During the weekends in local pubs, you will witness the supporters take part in rituals before, during and after a match to support their favorite teams. All these things prove that football occupies an unique culture in the island. Amidst the issues of poverty, diseases, corruption, warfare, and misgovernment, football seems to provide a way of life and hope not just in Zanzibar, but all over Africa. Perhaps, this is why football is called the beautiful game and challenged me to continue to question the concept of football ministry. How can these people learn about the gospel through this beloved sport?

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I recently read a short booklet previewing a forthcoming book “On Becoming Generative: An Introduction to Culture Care”. Fujimura, a contemporary artist,  introduces an interesting theory of Culture Care. He writes,

“Culture Care restores beauty as a seed of invigoration into the ecosystem of culture. Such soul care is generative: a well-nurtured culture becomes an environment in which people and creativity thrive.”

The word ‘generative’ refers to something that is bearing fruit or originating new life. As Fujimura would say, when we are generative, we draw on creativity to bring into being something fresh and life-giving. To me, ‘Culture Care’ sounds more like the gospel, the stewardship of His creation, or the journey to His Kingdom — it’s a generative approach to culture that brings resourcefulness, patience, and creativity into a culture bereft of His fruits. During my stay in Zanzibar, I saw a new vision to gather a community of people committed to generative living that identifies and models the conditions that best contribute to a good life and a thriving culture. Specifically, I saw a need for developing coaches in East Africa through my experiences in Zanzibar and as the African countries represented in the World Cup are more from the West and Northern African regions. I ask the Lord for His guidance, but it would be my dream to establish an organization focused in forming quality African coaches in East Africa. Hopefully, the outcome will see the nations develop a healthy football culture and ultimately lead to World Cup qualification.

Just as we are increasingly finding ways to take care of our environment for future generations, I hope we take importance notice in caring our culture as well so future generations can thrive. Culture and gospel go hand in hand in ministry.

 

Update!

It has been way too long since I wrote my last blog post on the ‘Transfer Market Mystery series.’ So… There’s a lot to share! Here’s a quick summary of what has been on my mind this semester.

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First, I would like to share briefly on Calvin Men’s soccer. It was 2011 last time Calvin was in the Final Four, eventually lost in the final. This is a huge moment for the team, players, coaches, and for the program.

“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.” Henry Ford

It’s no miracle that they are in the Final Four. After crashing out in the second round against Ohio Wesleyan last year, the team was already on sight for next season. The amount of dedication the team put in to be where they are now is unbelievable. Through competition, there was teamwork. In free time, there was discipline.

I have several topics in mind to dive deeper into and I hope to unpack some of these big topics after I finish up school in next two weeks! 

  • Football league system in Korea and England

What’s the common denominator from the following players?

Jaime Vardy of Leicester, Chris Smalling of Manchester United, Charlie Austic of QPR, Gary Hooper of Norwich, and Rickie Lambert of West Brom

They are just a few of many players who came from non-league to the Premier League. There are more than 7000 teams of nearly 5300 clubs in the English men’s football league system (Wikipedia). The vast structure of the league really teaches the importance of developing amateur football leagues to intensify and improve the football culture. My plan is to compare and contrast with the football league system in Korea and stress the need for development in amateur football.

  • Abusive coaches

I always have a negative view of coaches in Korea for their abusive attitudes towards the players. Considering the Asian culture of respecting the senior coaches/players, I thought the negative behaviors from the older coaches/players were inevitable. My perspective changed after watching several documentaries on English football and reading up on the history of abusive coaches in the U.S. First, abusive coaches are everywhere. Second, there is a difference in abusive coaches and demanding coaches.

  • Tainting the beautiful game: Match fixing (Ethics in Sports)

While taking a class in business ethics, I have been challenged to apply some of the big concepts into the football world. FIFA scandal is still making headlines and mach fixing is whole another issue. Unethical behaviors from the football leaders/organizations should not be tolerated. Hope to touch on some of the big issues in the game.

Lastly, a couple of thoughts on the EPL and the Korea national team.

As an EPL fan, this season has been far the worst. The quality of the games are well under par. Inconsistent run of results from the top-tier teams have been frustrating as well. Nick Miller of ESPN thinks this brings more excitement to the league.

I’m really excited to see how Korean national team will progress through the qualifications. The team is cruising in current round 2 qualification for 2018 WC and Uli Stielike is working on picking the best of best players to represent Korea. At this moment, the forward position is worth eyeing on.

More to come from me next this month!

 

See you again Greg!

Today my friend, Greg Kim, leaves to Korea. Inspiring and influencing me in many many areas of my life including football, I dedicate this post to him writing how he’s encouraged me to broaden my skills, knowledge, and vision in football.

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Greg and I are obsessive football fans who spend our free afternoons naming potential Arsenal and Man United transfer targets as if we are the head of the respective clubs.

Taking over the minds of LVG and Wenger, we hold our own press conference, listing and analyzing key points to every United and Arsenal game during pre-match, half-time, and post-match. We are constantly sharing our opinions to the game.

Sometimes, raising our voices, we dispute over a pass some player makes for hours even ignoring Eunsung (E is silent) yelling across the apartment to shut up. Every negative comment to each other’s favorite team kickoffs a game of football war.

Besides the rivalry, he shares and tips on my game as well before I head off to football training/game. Always asking me what I’m going to focus on that day, he’s helped me be intentional about my growth as a player.

To many, Greg is known for his intelligence in school who enjoys reading books on variety of topics. Having him as one of my housemates really inspired me to challenge higher for my academics as well.

Feeling doubtful of this blog because of my lack of writing skills and audience, I didn’t see the point of blogging until he showed his support to read (or, proof read) all my posts. Now, I thoroughly enjoy learning to write better (which is to read).

I hope he doesn’t find my words overly flattering as they hold true and honest to me.

Thanks Greg for your friendship! I wish you ALL THE BEST on your next journey.

Time for Change – FIFA

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Building football fields for kids in Africa to organizing the World Cup, FIFA stands on top as a football governing body. However, the recent unveil of corruption has tainted the image of FIFA and the sport. Currently, the ongoing investigation reveals corruption that is systemic and deep-rooted, dating two decades.

I’m writing this blog post to express anger because what FIFA has done over the years will now in some way impact the game we love. The leaders were put to their respective positions to be responsible to the world’s biggest game. Yet, they abused their power of trust to gain personal gains. The motto, “For the Game, For the World”, was nothing but mere words to them. Corrupting the game, FIFA is now put to public shame and must face all consequences.

FIFA at its weakest, this is the time we need to see new set of leaders and management in FIFA. The organization who “cares” to improve the beautiful game and impact the lives of every football fanatics in the world must have rightful leaders. With so much beauty surrounding the game, the governing organization is way too disgraceful.

Quite amazingly, Sepp Blatter still remains on top of FIFA despite innumerable controversies and constant corruption alerts. Refusing to take responsibility of the recent outbreak, he also claims he can’t monitor small things. As cliche as it may sound, he’s a very poor leader who’s blinded by power, fame, and money.

Rebuilding is not easy, but it simply cannot be done with Blatter in place. I want to end with a quote from David Gill whom I respect for his corporate management. “FIFA, being on the top of pyramid, should be a strong organization that leads development of football women, men, youth, and every different forms of football.”

Blatter is reelected as the FIFA President. There must be a revolution.

나의 철학

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나에게는 꿈이 있다. 커서 내가 좋아하고 제일 잘하는것을 하고싶다. 커서 내가 즐기지못하는일을하게된다면 난 시간을 헛되게 보낸것이고 더 열심히 살지못한것이다.

축구는 나에게 아주 큰 일부이다. 그런데 난 축구를 못한다. 작은 캘빈대학교에서 출전도 많이못하고 훈련에서도 내가 얼머나 부족한지 매일매일느낀다. 그래서 늘 후회한다. 어렸을떼 더 정식적으로 배웠다면… 개인훈련을 더 계획적으로 했다면…

대학교에 와서 난 인생을 어떻게 살아야되는것을 배웠다. 뒤에서 헌신하고 노력하는 부모님을 떠나고 미국에 오면서 난 인생 똑바로 살아야겠다는걸 느꼈다.  그래서  인생 열심히 살아서 부모님 호강해드리고 싶은생각밖에 없었다.

사람들은 말한다. ‘너가 하고싶은일을하라고…’ 참 위험한말이다. 뛰어난 실력, 재능이 없는 나한테 이런말은 아무 의미가없다.

내가 그렇게 좋아하는 축구를 버려두고 왜 회계학을 공부하고있는지 글로 표현하고싶다. 내가 커서 하고싶은일을 할려면 난 지금 해야하는일을 해야한다. 만일 지금 내가 하고싶은일을 하면 난 멀리 못간다. 멀리못가면 난 커서 즐기지 못하는 해야하는일을 해야한다. 회계로 난 많은 지식을 얻고있다. 세상이 어떻게 돌아가고 있는지 배우고있다. 공부잘하는 애들과 경쟁하면서 더욱더 책을 읽고싶고 그들과 나란히 서고싶다. 인턴쉽을 열심히 찾은이유도 경험을 통해 더 배운자로 성장하고싶은것이었다. 내가 만일 이렇게 공부를 안하고 축구, 축구, 축구만 했다면 미래는 더 캄캄하기만했을것이다.

오늘 나의 롤모델인 전 이영표선수가 나에게 응원을해주었다. 축구도하고 공부도 하고 책도읽어서 힘든자들에게 이렇게 말했다. “힘들죠. 근데 그힘든게 그시대에는 되게 좋은거예요. 안힘들면 이상한거예요… 아주 바람직하고 아주 잘하고있는거예요. 누군가가 ‘난 축구밖에 안해’ 라고 말하면 그건 뭔가 잘못된거예요.”

최근에 난 내가 많이 부족하다는걸 뼈저리게느낀다. 축구뿐만아니라 공부해서도… 말도 조리있게 못하고… 현실적으로 보는 난 너무나 약하다. 나의 부족한(?) 노력과 땀이 헛되게 보이고 의미가없어보였다. 도대체 왜 열심히 했는지 나 자신한테 물어보는 시간을 가진것같다. 자꾸 지금을 보기때문에 현실적이고 부정적이였다. 난 항상 잘한다는 평가를 받는것에 의미를 두고살은것같다. 이기는것이 목적이 되어있어서 남들이 더 잘되면 분하고 나한테는 안되는게 받아드리가 어려웠다. 내가 얼마나 성장했는지 그리고 노력을 통해 발전하고있는것을 보았다면 더 긍정적인 삶을 살수있다는걸 느낀다.

승리만을 원하고 이기는것만 원하는 사회는 최선을 다하는것보다 잘하는것을 더 원하고 끝까지 하는것보다 이기는것을 바란다. 나쁜게아니다. 난 그래도 항상 최선을 다하고끝까지 할꺼다. 그이유는 최선을 다하고 끝까지 하는것이 잘하고 이기는 유일한 방법이기때문이다. 최선을 다하고 끝까지 하자!

그리고 나를위해 헌신해주시고 노력해주신 부모님을 늘 기억할것이다.

그리고 난 이 모든과정에서 하나님의 자녀라는것을 절대로 잊으면안된다.

늘 그래왔듯이 난 또 목표를 새운다. 계획을 짠다. 그리고 난 꼭 행할것이다. 말했듯이 난 내가 하고싶은일을 하기위해서 지금 해야하는일을 할것이다. 내가 조심해야하는건… 과대평가 그리고 과소평가. 현재실력을 인정할것이고 어떻게 발전해 나갈 것인가에 집중할거다. 그러면 나에게도 “꿈이이루어진다” 라는 슬로건이 오길 믿는다.

Calvin Men’s Soccer as of today (11/11/14 Tuesday)

“There is something special about this team.”

Coach Souders spoke to us in one of the training days. He’s definitely right. A perfect record in the MIAA Conference. We claimed the MIAA Conference Regular-Season Title and the Conference Championship Title. It is the first time in Calvin Men’s soccer history and first time in MIAA Conference to see a team win with the perfect record, “The Invincible”. Now chasing for the TREBLE as we start off in the National Tournament against Rose-Hulman this Friday (11/14/14).

Being part of this team is a privilege. I don’t just say it. It is truly a privilege to be part of a program that strives for EXCELLENCE. Everyday in the training ground is hard day of work. I’m always learning and I’m always being humbled by my limited skills. I wish I was a better footballer to contribute more, but the soccer knowledge I gain here is priceless. I’ll come back to this matter on a separate journal.

Tactically, Calvin BACK FOUR brings solid stability in the team. The partnership between Nick G and Sean B is phenomenal. I saw three partnerships in the team during my time here at Calvin. Reed and Sean in 2012, Nick and Reed in early 2013, and Nick and Sean since the second half of 2013 season. “Third time is a charm.” Understanding of the game from Nick and Sean is remarkable. They are leaders who expects the players to play at their best. Both are technically gifted with great composure. They are very comfortable with the ball. The center backs who won’t lose the ball and who can connect passes provide great stability. Fearless in defending and clinical in front of the goal, they have all the attributes to be great center backs. With the addition of Reed as the RB and Jon F. as the LB, Coach Souders found a strong link in the back four. Reed and Jon. I think they are similar in playing style in that they are exceptional in using their bodies. Probably the most built men in the team, they are strong and are not afraid to get into tackles. They are not like modern full backs with dazzling overlaps and crosses, but the two’s primary focus is in defending. Their focus in keeping the shape and supporting the wingers is what makes this team more complete as a whole. Coach Souder’s philosophy in 4-3-3 formation is vulnerable in the empty space created in between the wingers and the full backs. However, Reed and Jon’s patience to hold behind the wingers has kept that space shut most of the time. Overall, the back four keeps the line tight, reacts quickly to turnovers, understands each other’s weaknesses, and covers space for one another. These attributes show why Calvin has a remarkable record of having only conceded 8 goals in 21 games. (Remember season is not finished!). Also congratulations to Niko G for keeping 6 consecutive clean sheets during the MIAA regular season. Remarkable. I can go for another paragraph on our keeper. He’s fantastic, period.

“Everyone defends.”
This mindset kept this team on the winning ways. Keeping the shape and closing down spaces against other teams has gave other teams difficult to score. It will be interesting how this team does against the Nationally ranked teams. More to come from this squad as we head to the Nationals. Stay tuned for more on CMS!SDP_9519