Thursday, November 6, 2008

Mini World Cup 2008

This past Saturday Keegan and I spent the whole day at the "Mini World Cup," which the city of Geoje puts on for all the foreigners that work and play club soccer at the shipyards. It was held at the Geoje Stadium, which is really nice, with a perfectly manicured field and a big, wide rubbery track. I had a nice four-mile run on the track while Keegan warmed up with the ABS team. Normally I don't like running on the track, but it was so nice to have a long, flat running route that I didn't mind so much.

The soccer tournament had eight teams in it, which were assigned country names based on the location of their home office. There were two Brazilian teams, one from each shipyard, and one each from Qatar, the UK, Angola, and Korea. ABS's team played as the U.S., even though there are a number of people of other nationalities on the team.

The opening ceremony featured a Korean traditional drumming group wearing the most outrageous costumes. There were a man and "woman" dressed in traditional Korean clothing who just danced and didn't drum. The man had a stringy fake white beard, and the "woman" was actually a man with lipstick who really hammed it up. Keegan thought he must have had the benefit of some early morning soju. Some of the drummers had these huge blooming hats with crumpled crepe paper glued all over them so that they looked like enormous blowsy flowers. Another drummer had a long ribbon attached to his hat so that if he moved his head in the right way he could twirl the ribbon around his body as he drummed. There was also one man playing a very shrill horn over all of the drumming. Definitely a spectacle worth seeing.

After the drummers finished, the pushy Korean women who were emceeing coaxed all of the players onto the field for some "exercises," which consisted of abashed men dancing around to obnoxious techno music. As a spectator, I can report that it was truly hilarious. After the exercises, some Geoje VIPs were introduced, and they cut up an immense, steaming rice cake to distribute amongst the participants and spectators. It was gluey rice paste covered in very dry bean powder and not very flavorful, so it did not go over well in the American tent.

The opening events over, we settled in for the tournament. I spent some time chatting with two of the female surveyors that Keegan works with, who are both quite nice. To entertain the spectators while the soccer games were going on, the sponsors of the event came up with a number of games to keep us entertained. There was a hula hooping contest, during which we realized how amazing Korean women are at hula hooping. While the Americans thrashed around desperately, swinging our hips violently from side to side, the Korean women stood practically still, as if they didn't even notice that there was a heavy plastic ring covered in punishing bumps twirling around their tender middles.

After hula hooping came hackey-sack and traditional Korean darts and then my personal favorite: the "throwing your shoe in the air" contest. This involved five people lining up and kicking their loosened right shoes as far as possible. Kristin, Keegan's co-worker, placed second and won a gift pack full of soap and toothpaste. My kick was only mediocre, unfortunately. In the afternoon, there was an 800 meter relay. We had trouble finding participants from ABS since the guys were playing soccer, so another female surveyor and I teamed up with Brazil and Holland teams to run our 200 meter legs. My team was pretty slow, but we had a good time. The last game of the day was tug of war, which was set up just as it would be in the U.S. except that instead of pulling with a sustained effort, the teams tugged suddenly and then released in a regular rhythm. My team won, and I was treated to one of the coveted soap and toothpaste sets. Keegan also won some soap, so between the two of us we won enough to keep ourselves clean for perhaps the rest of our stay in Korea.

The ABS team ended up doing quite well and played in the final against Qatar. The game was tied 2 -2 after the second half, so they went to penalty kicks. Both teams made their first five kicks, but on the second round, the Qatar goalie stopped the ABS kick, and then they scored another penalty kick to win the game. It was an exciting finish to the day! The whole event was pretty fun, and we were impressed with the amount of food and prizes and entertainment that the city provided for us - we'll look forward to going again next year.


Jamie said...

hilarious! what I wouldn't do for free soap and toothpaste sets . . .

chrissy said...

I wish I had been there to see all of the fun! Especially the man and "woman" costumes and antics.

The new pics of the kitties are awesome. I can't believe how fast they're growing!