Throughout South Korea’s Women’s World Cup opener against Colombia on Tuesday, players stayed loose behind the goal. Early in the 78th minute, one player broke away from the group. Casey Phair, at 16 years and 26 days, stepped onto the field and became the youngest player to do so in a World Cup — women’s or men’s.
Football Stadium in Sydney, July 25, 2023.
A Nervous Beginning Of Casey Yu-Jin Phair
“Going on, I was really, really nervous,” said Phair, who has an American father and a South Korean mother and was raised in the United States. “It was a scary moment, but then going on and running around, I think it just settled in.”
The record previously was held by the late Ifeanyi Chiejine, who was 16 years and 34 days old when she played for Nigeria in the 1999 Women’s World Cup.
Seizing the Opportunity
In the 17 minutes she spent on the field in South Korea’s 2-0 loss, Phair was near the ball at all times, competing with Colombian players for possession every chance she got.
“She deserved the chance to play,” South Korea’s head coach Collin Bell said. “She trained really well, just as well as anybody. I wanted to throw her on to give her that experience.”
Casey Phair’s Historic Milestone
Phair’s next chance to play comes Sunday, when the Taegeuk Ladies take on Morocco in Adelaide, Australia.
Born on June 29, 2007, in South Korea, Phair also is the first multi-ethnic player, female or male, to play for a South Korean senior national team.
“I’m really proud and really honored to be the first mixed player for the Korean Federation,” Phair said. “I really appreciate the opportunity I was given today.”
A Rising Generation of Talent
Phair is not the only young star in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Two other 16-year-old players are on squads for the tournament, although both were born in 2006. Giulia Dragoni started for Italy, wearing the No. 16, in its 1-0 win over Argentina on Monday, and Sheika Scott subbed in for Costa Rica in its 3-0 loss against Spain on Friday.
Four other Women’s World Cup players are 17, and there are 39 teenagers among the 32 teams.
One is Colombia’s 18-year-old Linda Caicedo, who scored her first World Cup goal in the 39th minute Tuesday in her tournament debut, earning her Player of the Match honors. She is the youngest goal-scorer at the tournament in Australia and New Zealand thus far.
Casey Phair Embracing the Challenge
The crowd was noticeably pro-Colombia, which Phair had to deal with as she created her piece of history.
“Warming up I think it was very loud,” Phair said. “I really enjoyed that being my first time playing, and I’m hoping to get used to it.”
COLOMBIA BEAT SOUTH KOREA
Colombia made a winning start at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand as they beat South Korea thanks to goals from Catalina Usme and Linda Caicedo. The win moves Colombia level on three points in Group H with Germany, who thrashed Morocco 6-0 in their first match. South Korea’s Casey Phair became the youngest-ever player at a Women’s World Cup, aged 16 and 26 days.
A Promising Start for Colombia
Colombia started their Women’s World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over South Korea in Sydney. Catalina Usme opened the scoring from the penalty spot before 18-year-old Linda Caicedo made it 2-0 in the 39th minute.
Casey Phair’s Record-Breaking Debut
The game was also notable as South Korean substitute Casey Phair became the youngest-ever player at a Women’s World Cup. Phair, aged 16 years and 26 days, was introduced in the 78th minute. The previous record was held by Nigeria’s Ifeanyi Chiejine, who was 16 years and 34 days old when she played at the World Cup in 1999.
A Talented Addition to the Team
Phair was born in South Korea but moved to the United States when she was just a month old. She replaced Choe Yuri as South Korea pushed for a way back into the game. South Korea coach Colin Bell had said ahead of the tournament that Phair was going to be a “valuable member of the squad”.
The win moves Colombia level on three points in Group H with Germany, who thrashed Morocco 6-0 in their first match. Every team at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand has now played their opening match.
England plays Denmark in their second Group D match on Friday. Sarina Wiegman’s side started their tournament with a 1-0 win over Haiti.
Casey Phair’s journey has just begun, and her future in the sport appears bright. We eagerly await her next appearances on the field and the remarkable contributions she will make to women’s football.
In the end, the Women’s World Cup not only showcases the best female footballers from around the world but also promotes unity, diversity, and empowerment. It is an event that unites nations, sparks passion, and fosters a shared love for the beautiful game.
Casey Phair’s historic debut as the youngest-ever player at a Women’s World Cup showcased her skills and fearlessly competed against experienced Colombian players.
As Phair embraces her unique position as the first multi-ethnic player for the Korean Federation, she not only represents South Korea but also symbolizes the growing diversity and inclusivity in international football. Her record-breaking achievement paves the way for future generations of aspiring players, inspiring them to dream big and pursue their passion for the sport.
The Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand is not only witnessing Phair’s extraordinary rise but also the emergence of several other young stars who are making their mark on the global stage. The tournament is a celebration of talent and potential, with numerous teenagers leaving their mark and creating their own history.
Colombia’s victory against South Korea and the impressive performance of other teams highlight the intense competition and thrilling moments that fans can expect throughout the tournament. As the Women’s World Cup progresses, the world will witness outstanding displays of skill, teamwork, and sportsmanship, setting new standards for women’s football.
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