Chelsea Ladies manager: The game needs more Asian players

Chelsea Stamford Bride

Chelsea Ladies manager Emma Hayes says Asian players can spearhead the development of the FA Women’s Super League after the club unveiled new signing Ji So Yun at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday.

When she takes to the field this season, Ji will become the first Korean to play in the FAWSL after moving to Chelsea from World Club champions INAC Kobe Leonessa.

And Hayes is delighted the three-time Korean Player of the Year has decided to seize her opportunity to play in England.

"I’ve been watching her for 3 or 4 years now," Hayes told HITC Sport. "She was the missing piece that we were looking for, because in order for us to score goals - and get the likes of Yuki (Ogimi), Eni (Aluko) and Rachel (Williams) in good positions - we need service and Ji has got the talent to provide them with that.

"This is a big achievement for the club and it’s the first time in my career I’ve signed a player from Korea - no pun intended!

"One thing I will say about the Asian players is that they are a pleasure to coach.

"It’s easy because they are very low maintenance players. They‘re very committed to the sport and they are just brilliant professionals all round.

"When I talk to our younger players in training I'm always telling them to watch what they do, how they warm up, what they do at the end of training and watch the extra work they are doing.

"If we are going to elevate the game in England we are going to need Asian players, top Asian players, to help with that process and help professionalise the game."

Ji, who made her international debut for South Korea aged just 15, is the second player from the Far East to join Chelsea following the arrival of Japan's World Cup-winning striker Yuki Ogimi last summer.

Ogimi moved to Chelsea from German side Turbine Potsdam and Hayes revealed the 26-year-old has been invaluable in helping the club’s new attacking midfielder acclimatise to life in England.

"Yuki is a great leader and she is always happy to take on responsibility," Hayes said.

"We’ve asked her to help Ji during this settling in period and she’s assisted us with translation because Ji knows Japanese (from her time at Kobe).

"I think overall Yuki is very happy because now she’s got someone who can help give her the service to score goals that she has been craving."

Ji paid tribute to Ogimi and revealed that she is also looking forward to speaking to some of her male Korean counterparts who ply their trade in England.

"She’s been tremendous since the moment I arrived here," the 22-year-old said. "She has helped me out a lot already and she’s been great in helping me adjust to life here.

"I know many of the Korean players who play here and I will make contact with them but so far I've only been in touch with Yun (Suk-Young) at QPR."

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