<018. Frog Out of the Well(2)>
"182cm to 189cm?"
"That's right, Ho Yung."
Ho Yung pumped his fists.
Basically unlimited height growth.
This was an ability that he couldn't have ever earned with effort. His height wouldn't even cause any rumours concerning the matter of if he was the true child of his parents, as Hwang Sun and Ho Yung looked amazingly similar.
His mum was on the taller side, anyway.
He made his mind up to treat Hyung Jun Suk to a meal if he ever ran into him on the world stage.
"So is this it for the medical test?"
All he had done was a blood test, X-ray, and some heart tests; all just regular health tests.
"Yes. Right now, it's just very basic health checks. We'll start more extensive medical tests before you officially enter the team."
So the inbody tests that measure general body balance like muscle density will be conducted later. Lukas then took Ho Yung through the current schedule laid out for Ho Yung.
First, information regarding the youth team and the academy.
Second, information regarding FIFA transfer laws, article 19.
"Do you understand?"
"Yes. So I don't have to worry, I just need to focus on soccer?"
There was no reason to worry - there were other players under 18 years of age from Mexico, Bolivia, Chile and Korea who belonged to the team.
"Even if that becomes a problem, later on, it's not going to be a huge issue. Ho Yung, you won't live here forever, right?"
He was right.
He wasn't going to belong to San Paolo for all of his life.
Brazil was just a step in his career - it wasn't the league he would forever live in. In fact, Ho Yung's thoughts couldn't be further from that.
'There are so many teams I want to go to!'
He wasn't a one-club man - more of a journeyman. It would be frustrating to be stuck in one place.
Of course, it wasn't something he could decide before he experienced it himself.
"So when do we sign?"
"In April, there will be a signing season for new players. Then you'll be officially in the youth team. Until then, you'll learn the fundamentals at the academy. You'll be judged personally and given training - the results and the medical test will be combined to make the GPA."
"It's basically a score. That you need to sign."
"Oh ~ to judge whether I get into the team or not?"
"Yes, the cut is 6.5 out of 10, and the contract will differ with your score."
"Haha. I know it's a bit hard. To explain again…"
"No, I understand."
Ho Yung decided to ask about something else.
"What if the score is less than 6.5?"
"Then you train at the academy and wait for the next opportunity. You've come all this way, you can't just go back!"
"Haha, of course!"
He began to understand the relationship between the youth team and the academy.
"What's the personal judgement test?"
"Well. It judges whether you, Ho Yung, have the mental health to be able to cope with the youth team's training. You'll also want to learn Portuguese."
"The personal test has a Portuguese test section."
Nothing was truly easy.
4 days later, there finally came the time to say goodbye.
"Ho Yung, take care and keep in touch."
"Yes, don't worry, I'm a big boy now~"
"You talk like a big boy haha."
His son was his son, whether he was 20 or 40. A parent always saw their child as a child, no matter their age, so Hwang Sun naturally worried.
"Ho Yung Wu, you can do this!"
"I'm very proud of you."
Hi Sun couldn't seem to make herself walk away. She hugged Ho Yung tightly.
"If you ever feel exhausted or bad, tell us."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
Later that day.
It would have been understandable to spend the first few days lazily with the excuse of getting adjusted, but Ho Yung didn't waste any time.
His parents were paying his living expenses so he couldn't afford to do that.
Plus, he was going to attend grade 5 in a private primary school next month; it was vital that he learnt the language. It was lucky that he knew some Spanish from his mum.
It helped a lot that Spanish and Portuguese were very similar.
Moreover, Maria Cho held classes for all the kids from foreign countries so Ho Yung was able to build his skills incredibly fast.
He purposely didn't use Korean.
From the morning to the afternoon, he was trained in the U9 (under 9) academy.
Truthfully, the academy was not of a high standard. It was only a stage to build a foundation before entering officially.
He entered the highest skill-level class but actually, it was a system designed that anyone with money could get into the academy. There were more Asian international students than Brazilian kids - that should say enough.
This might have been why there were nearly no kids with skills.
It could be taken as a warm-up for the entrance to the youth team?
The real thing started after getting into the U11 or U13, which were official teams belonging to San Paolo FC.
The signing season was April, so he would wait for that deadline while training.
Communication was hard but since the sport was played with the body, it was bearable. Every day, he returned home after sunset.
He wanted to kick the ball around alone into the night but there was a higher crime rate in Brazil than in Korea. The problem began there.
He didn't have a phone or a roommate and it was incredibly lonely and frustrating to be alone in a room.
"I wish I could have a beer…"
After becoming independent, all his repressed urges came back.
'Ha. I need to make friends to learn the language quicker, too.'
Ho Yung's strength was in socialising. He hoped that he could communicate with body language and make some friends.
'Let's just try it.'
That was his way of handling everything.
The moment he opened the door, he ran into her.
She smiled and waved.
"Um, hello. Are you…"
Ho Yung closed his mouth. He wished that he could speak more but actually speaking was a lot more difficult.
'Did I forget?'
Language was a problem.
Ho Yung searched for anything to say at all and scratched his head.
"Do you know how to speak Korean?"
"No, I'm an idiot for asking."
It wasn't like K-pop was big yet so he would be lucky if she even knew where Korea was. There was no way that anyone would know Korean.
Monica called him in a familiar language.
"Do you speak English?"
"What about Russian?"
He shook his head.
Ho Yung got a flash of recognition in his eyes.
"My mum used to live in Spain!"
He made his first friend that day.
Her room was full of amazing smells.
That was Ho Yung's review. Monica had invited him into her room.
"So your dad is Brazilian, your mum is Russian-American and your grandma is Spanish?"
"Yeah, I was named by my grandma."
'How many races did she have in her…?'
Ho Yung truly felt how he was in a multicultural country.
"How many languages do you speak?"
"Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and English, but I don't speak every one of them fluently."
"Wow… you're that?"
Monica's eyes sparkled as she looked at Ho Yung.
Gymnastics prodigy (B)
Natural talent in linguistics
Centred body balance (B-)
Soft flexibility (C)
(A skill can be taken if the criteria are fulfilled.)
(Criteria 1: Converse 6000 minutes in a foreign language)
(Criteria 2: Pass the certificate of proficiency in Brazilian Portuguese, CELPE- Bras)
(Criteria 3: Stretch together for 300 minutes)
'Talent in linguistics… tempting.'
You didn't absolutely need to have talent in linguistics to speak multiple languages but he had also seen the skill 'excellent sense of language (C)' in Maria.
The criteria of speaking a foreign language made it a little difficult but he would be able to achieve it with his housemate, Monica, with some time. He just needed to slowly build it with Spanish even if it's frustrating.
"Do you… learn a sport?"
Kids who were in homestay situations around here were mostly elite athletes.
"What do you learn?"
Of course, the Russian heritage…!
"But aren't Russia and Spain famous for rhythmic gymnastics?"
"I was living in Rio de Janeiro with my family and I started it as a hobby. My coach told me I've got some talent, so I came here to learn it for free. If I do well here, they might let me train in Spain too."
He felt once again that this was the birthplace of Brazilian elite sports, Victoria Hashpe.
"Yeah. Even I can see that you have gymnastic skills."
"Hahah. You're a funny one."
"Yeah? Let's be good friends, Monica."
Monica felt refreshed at Ho Yung's manners compared to boys his age.
Time flowed fast.
He studied hard, trained hard, and developed his skills with fire and passion. One month was a breeze.
In February, he started at a school that was 10 minutes away by bus. Thanks to his open personality, he was able to make friends quickly.
There was the occasional racism and practical jokes, but all trouble was solved with soccer.
Brazil was a soccer nation after all!
In Physical Education class, the students went outside to kick the ball around and Ho Yung drew eyes with his outstanding skills. The best part was that there was so much more time allowed for students to be outside than in Korea.
This also helped him develop his skills.
However, the $7000 yearly school fees always stuck out in the corner of his mind. This motivated him to think about the future and focus on soccer.
Eat, soccer, eat, soccer.
In the evening, Monica's tutoring.
He had never lived as passionately and as busily as now. Every day was hard, but he thought about his future and his family. He stayed with sheer willpower.
His loneliness was lessened by good friends, including Monica.
It was April before he knew it.
It had only been 2 months but there had been a lot of changes in Ho Yung.
Even though his communication skills weren't perfect, he acquired 'rhythmical flexibility (C)' and 'quite showy footwork (C+)' and kept improving his skill set.
On top of that, he achieved the beginner ranking in the CELPE-Bras test which he needed for his personal judgement.
On the contrary, the world did not change.
The war in Iraq or natural disasters and other heavy events happened. There was nothing Ho Yung could do about it.
It was hard, but he focused on his future only.
Thursday, April 3rd, 2003; the day he had been waiting for.
Bianca, the TSN Manager of the San Paolo FC youth team, spoke to Ho Yung who had just finished the entrance process.
"Ho Yung. Good job for your effort."
"Congratulations, your GPA is a 9.13. Would you like to look at the contract?"
10-year-old Ho Yung, finally, had climbed his way to the front of a negotiating table.
Months of effort and determination lead to this moment. He felt as if he could cry.
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