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Casey Phair’s ‘very Korean upbringing’ and the rise of women’s sports

Korean women's national football team striker Casey Phair poses in her Angel City FC uniform. [ANGEL CITY FC]

Korean women’s national football team striker Casey Phair had to be picked up. It was last September, not more than a month after Phair made headlines for being the youngest-ever player to clock time in the World Cup. Phair was back in the United States, and she had flown to Los Angeles for a two-week training session with National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side Angel City FC, where she’ll soon make her professional debut. Her mother, who had accompanied her on the Los Angeles trip, was there to pick her up after her first day. Phair, 16, can’t drive. Besides the fact that Phair was training at the highest level of professional football in the United States mere weeks after playing in the World Cup, for her mom, it was just another day on the touchline.
 
“My mom has driven the most — I don’t even know how many — hours, growing up,” Phair said, recalling her mom’s presence in her career, from youth clubs to the international level, during an exclusive interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily. “So to be able to look back and to know that I’m representing her side of our family, kind of, makes me really proud.” Phair, whose mother is Korean and father is American, started playing for Korea at the U-17 level last April, scoring five goals across two appearances to help earn the team a spot in the 2024 AFC U-17 Women’s Asian Cup.
 
She was called up to the senior team a couple months later, playing in all three of Korea’s games at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Phair was born in Anyang, Gyeonggi, and moved to the United States when she was two months old, though she said she frequently returned to visit her mother’s side of the family — attending first grade and learning Taekwondo — before she turned 10, when she started getting busier with her sport. “I think a lot of people don’t know I have a very Korean upbringing,” Phair said. While some Korean media outlets have made references to a potential language barrier between her teammates on the field, Phair said she considers her Korean to be “good.”
 
“I guess it’s like, not annoying, but a little bit frustrating that people think I don’t know how to speak Korean,” Phair said. “Because before I could speak English I was doing the Korean hangul…workbooks with my mom. So I’ve always known how to read and write. ”Phair said that growing up around her mother’s side of the family and eating Korean food at home helped with her transition from the U-17 to the senior national team. “When I went to Korea, I had some of the more traditional soups, and all the players on my team were so confused and surprised that I knew how to eat it because it’s some things that, people that live in America, they didn’t think 스포츠토토존 would like,” Phair said.
 

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