Casey Phair – The youngest ever World Cup Player is Mixed Asian

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Shauqee Damji
Shauqee
Sport Management and Coaching student @ University of Bath Mum is Japanese, Dad is Kenyan but I was born and raised in London, England. I went through the whole Japanese Saturday school system and am now coaching football part time in both English and Japanese.

What is Casey Yu-Jin Phair’s ethnicity?

Casey Yu-Jin Phair, who is half Korean, and half American, recently made footballing history. In securing her spot in the 23-player roster for the South Korean national team ahead of this year’s World Cup, she became South Korea’s first female mixed ethnicity player to be selected and the youngest participant in the senior squad. 

On July 25 2023, she made her mark by stepping onto the field in the 78th minute of South Korea’s match against Colombia, becoming the youngest ever player, regardless of gender, to participate in a FIFA World Cup, aged just 16 years and 26 days. She surpassed the previous record held by Nigeria’s Ifeanyi Chiejine by 8 days, who achieved the feat at 16 years and 34 days in 1999.

78th Min of game vs Colombia, Phair became the youngest ever to play in the World Cup. (credit: thesundaily)
78th Min of game vs Colombia, Phair became the youngest ever to play in the World Cup. (credit: thesundaily)

Other Mixed Asians playing at the Women’s World Cup

Phair is not the only mixed Asian to play at the 2023 Women’s World Cup. Olympic Gold medalist Canadian defender Jayde Yuk Fun Riviere is also a multippl. Her mother Emily was born in Kowloon, Hong Kong, and her father Tony was born in Roseau, Dominica.

Also, as the Guardian reported, eight of the 23 players on the Filipino squad were born in America – and some of these are mixed Filipina. The youngest player in the squad, Kaiya Jota, is 17 years old with a Filipino father and an English mother.

Philippines women’s national team captain Tahnai Annis said: “I think that’s kind of an underlying knowing that everyone has. It really didn’t matter how long anyone’s been on the team, or if we grew up in the States or Manila; we have some girls that grew up in Canada and Norway.

“We’re everywhere. Then, when we’re together, it’s not about where we grew up or where we live. Everyone knows we share the same blood and we’re family.”

Casey Yu-Jin Phair’s family and early life

Born in South Korea to a South Korean mother (Hye Young) and an American father (Shane Phair), she moved to the USA with her family when she was just one month old, and has lived there since. 

Growing up, Casey was part of a football-loving household and her talent on the pitch was evident from an early age. Like her two younger brothers (Liam, 14 and Michael, 11), she honed her skills at the Players Development Academy (PDA) in New Jersey.

Casey Phair with her American father, Korean mother and her 2 little brothers. (credit: nj.com)
Casey Phair with her American father, Korean mother and her 2 little brothers. (credit: nj.com)

During her freshman season at the Pingry School, she scored an impressive 25 goals in 15 games. This outstanding performance earned her a call-up to the South Korean U17 team, where she continued to shine, netting five goals in two games, including a hat trick against Hong Kong. Subsequently, she was selected for the first team, with Colin Bell, the South Korean women’s team manager, boldly declaring, “Casey is the future of this team.”

Youngest-ever player at a Football World Cup

After making her debut in the World Cup for her senior national team, Casey Phair expressed her pride in representing her mother’s homeland, stating, “I’m really proud and honoured to be the first mixed player for the Korean Federation […]. I really appreciate the opportunity I was given today.”

Phair’s footballing journey serves as an inspiring example for young footballers from diverse backgrounds. Her achievement in women’s football underscores the importance of continued investment and support in the sport. As one of 39 teenagers among the 32 World Cup teams, she exemplifies the growing quality and outreach of women’s football.

Casey Phair’s accomplishment as the first mixed ethnicity player for the South Korean national team celebrates diversity and unity in women’s football. As such a young and promising athlete, Phair has an exciting career ahead of her, and we can expect that her presence, especially as the first mixed ethnicity Korean player, will inspire more young girls from ever-diverse backgrounds to enter the sport.

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