‘The power of Gangwon-do.’
K League 1 Gangwon FC is depressed at the beginning of the 2023 season. They’ve only played 2 matches, but they’re losing in a row and scoreless. It is the opposite of last year, which started with an undefeated streak. To make matters worse, even native striker Lee Jeong-hyeop was absent for a long time (six weeks) due to an injury. A situation where Dino, who took almost the entire 2022 season off due to a major injury, has to fill the void even though he has not yet been able to improve his normal condition. This is due to lack of attack resources.
Even if it is not, Gangwon is facing the 2023 season without clear power reinforcement, such as failing to fill the limit of foreign players (5 + 1), so coach Choi Yong-soo, the world’s winner, is also deeply troubled.
But I don’t think there is any need to be discouraged. Unlike the gloomy inside the ground, it is because there is a strong ‘power of Gangwon-do’ outside. It is the enthusiasm of the Gangwon fans that can awaken the spirit of ‘no offense’ to the team who are depressed.
In Gangwon, which has been called a ‘barren land’, it has been shown that fans’ interest is increasing day by day. The home opening game against Ulsan Hyundai took place on the 5th at Songam Sports Town in Chuncheon. The team and the players were blown away by the atmosphere at the stadium. The number of spectators that day was 6,199. It was a new record for the largest number of spectators at a home game in Gangwon since 2018, when paid spectator counting was introduced. It far exceeded the previous record (5823, Suwon Samsung match on August 17, 2019).
Even with the exception of 2020-2021, when spectator admission was restricted due to the Corona 19 pandemic, Gangwon front desks, who were accustomed to crowds of 1,000 spectators due to the nature of the Gangwon region, where football interest was waning, could not hide their surprise at the packed stadium.
Sales of MD products also skyrocketed. According to the club, the sales performance of MD products during the day before the home opening was 5 times the average sales of last year and 2.5 times the highest sales of last year. In August and September of last year, when Kim Dae-won and Yang Hyun-joon rose to stardom with a successful summer rebound, the highest sales were around 13 to 15 million won.
An official from the club said, “The number of prepared items such as signed balls, mufflers, and children’s size uniforms have all been sold out, and team uniform number marking paper and Fila windbreakers have also gone to the verge of being sold out.” 안전놀이터
Local small business owners who operated various food trucks around the stadium also screamed with joy. It is said that he enjoyed a part that was significantly different from last year to the extent that he could not go to the bathroom due to the influx of customers.
The team laughed, saying, “The off-site venue and ticket box open two hours before the game starts, but on this day, fans came from about three hours before, realizing the changed heat.”
There is, of course, a reason for this change in enthusiasm. It is because of the fighting spirit and results that the Gangwon team has shown over the past two years. After recruiting coach Choi Yong-soo at the end of the 2021 season, Gangwon presented a miraculous comeback in the promotion playoffs, and immediately rose to the top split in 2022, causing a sensation for the frontier team. It was enough to stimulate the curiosity of Gangwon residents and the dormant passion for soccer.