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June 28, 2012

The Chance awards two young Korean footballers coveted tickets to Barcelona

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All 32 Korean finalists received a once-in-a-lifetime experience, meeting football heroes and showing off their skills to a national audience.

The battle to select Korea’s finalists for ‘The Chance’ gave 32 young footballers a life-changing opportunity. It was part of Nike’s global football talent search, which offers amateur footballers in 55 countries the chance to prove themselves on an elite stage.

Korea’s Seon-Min Moon, a 2010 Chance finalist, took advantage and earned a two-year contract with Sweden’s Ostersunds FK.

Korea’s 2012 Chance competition kicked off in March with “First Find,” featuring Korea National Football Team midfielder Sung-Yeung Ki (Celtic FC) helping to assess the field. Over the three-month journey to select the two finalists, 4,366 young football players had tryouts in Daegu, Pusan and Seoul. Ultimately, the pool was narrowed to the top 100, with some players selected by Guus Hiddink, Korea’s 2002 World Cup head coach, who led the team to its first-ever quarterfinals. The entire journey was broadcast on SBS ESPN, the most viewed sports channel in Korea. Commentators included Moon-Sung Park, Korea’s influential football columnist, and Dong-Wan Kim, official FIFA agent and football specialist.

The top 100 were split into four teams and each worked with a National Football team star -- Dong-Gook Lee (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC), Jung-Woo Kim (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors FC), Bit-Garam Yoon (Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C.) and Hyo-Jin Choi (Sangju Sangmu Phoenix FC). These professional players, along with 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup star Jung-Hwan Ahn, selected the 32 Korean finalists.

On June 24, these remaining 32 amateurs played a decisive match at the Suwon World Cup Football Stadium under the watchful eyes of Korea’s football hero Ji-Sung Park. The Manchester United midfielder selected the final two, 16-year-old Young-Jae Seo and 20-year-old Tae-Jun Um, who will represent Korea in Barcelona.

“Young-Jae Seo is unique in that he is a leftie, and he is very smart,” said Park. “I was very impressed with Tae-Jun Um’s leadership in supporting the team and driving them towards performance. I wish them the best of luck in the global finals.”

In August, the finalists will head to Barcelona where they will play under famed coach Pep Guardiola at FC Barcelona’s famed youth academy. It will be the end of a six-month journey for the professional scouts and Nike coaches who will have worked in 55 countries and across five continents to discover the 100 best young footballers for the final leg of The Chance journey. The ultimate opportunity awaits -- to earn a place on the elite 16-man squad that will travel the world, training with the best professional teams and playing against the most prestigious youth academies.