For 15 years, he was Sazal Mahamud, a citizen of Bangladesh. Then in November 2010, he was adopted by a Korean family and looked forward to a new chapter in his life.
And the 17-year-old, now known as Kim Dae-yeon, encountered unexpected joy here, when he found he could resume his national youth team pedigree in cricket and furthermore represent his new country at the upcoming Asian Games.
“My childhood dream was to become a cricketer because the sport is gaining worldwide popularity. I started playing cricket at age 8 and played for the Under-10 and -15 national teams in Bangladesh. Before coming to Korea, my school finished second in a 326-team competition,” Kim said in an interview with The Korea Times.
Kim was adopted by a five-member family living in Incheon, a port city 40 kilometers west of Seoul. According to him, his new father, a businessman and Christian, had a religious hope of having a foreign-born son from an impoverished country and adopted Kim at the recommendation of the Bangladeshi wife of a friend. Kim still has family remaining in Bangladesh; he was the youngest of a six siblings who all lived separately, dispersed across the nation.
He is currently continuing his cricket career in Korea playing for Brighton’s International in the nation’s lone cricket league, organized by the Korea Cricket Association (KCA).
Kim said that the league has about 10 clubs mainly featuring expatriates in Korea, with the lone Korean cricket team, Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul. Currently, he privately teaches players of the university.
“Unlike other Asian countries, cricket does not draw much attention in Korea and the governing body has a short history. As a result, there are no specialized facilities for the sport. We just play cricket on the playing fields of Sungkyunkwan University in Suwon,” he said.
He also said that ability of Korean cricket players is subpar because they have not had the chance to intensively train in the sport.
“Watching games have been the only way to hone their skills,” Kim said. “In November, Australian cricket officials visited Korea and gave a clinic to Korean players. I was there, too and after the clinic, they told me to help improve Korean players.”
Incheon, where Kim now resides, is the host of the 2014 Asian Games and cricket is a regular event in the quadrennial sports festival.
The KCA plans to form a team for a maiden Asian Games appearance and Kim, who believes he can contribute to his host country in the sport, has set a goal of representing Korea there.
“As I have played cricket for national youth teams, I can help Korean cricket do well at the Asian Games. I want to participate in the competition for Korea,” he said.
“I want the KCA to consider me in organizing the national team for the Asian Games.”
Kim is willing to help raise the game of local cricketers’.
“There is no person in Korea to properly teach local cricketers and among foreigners living here, it is not easy to find one who is professionally trained. I can do the job,” he said.
“Should I become a Korea international, I cannot singlehandedly lead the squad and would need Korean players to play well. I think that if they receive proper coaching, they can certainly improve.”