Lee Sung-shin, a member of the Japan rugby team, lost his mother to cancer when he was in the sixth grade. When I was playing rugby, my mother was always there to watch over me.

"I've always wanted to play in the World Cup, so I have a strong desire to play for my mother," he says

, adding that the World Cup in France kicks off in September. It tells the story of a young commander of Japan who is aiming for the big stage and his family.
(Sports News Department, Reporter Tatsuki Kobayashi)

【Click here for broadcast schedule】Sports × Human "Rugby Japan National Team Lee Seung-shin"

Broadcast Date: 2023 June 6Rugby
frenzy is coming again! At the World Cup in France to be held in autumn, Lee Seung-shin of Koreans in Japan is expected to play an active role as the new control tower for Japan. We followed the fierce struggle of young warriors who challenged the roadless road.

Mother who battled cancer

Lee, a third-generation Korean resident in Japan, was born as the youngest of three children.

Mother and three brothers (Lee on the left)

Under the influence of his father and two older brothers, he started playing rugby at the age of four, and grew up chasing the ball with enthusiasm.

But one day in the sixth grade. Lee and his brothers were called by their father.

There I was told.

"Omoni (mother) may be almost there,"

said my mother, who was battling illness.

Lee's mother, Yongfu, had breast cancer.

Among breast cancers, "inflammatory breast cancer" progresses quickly. He had been in and out of the hospital repeatedly for several years and was battling illness.

Lee's father, Dongqing, who was watching nearby, looks back on those days.

Lee's father, Dongqing (right)

(Lee's father, Dongqing) "I had surgery and recurrence,
and I was told that I had one year to live, so I went to various famous doctors in Tokyo and Kyoto. But after all, every teacher said that there was only one more year. The medicine didn't work very well, and I think he had a really hard time."

His father, Dongkei, says he will never forget the words of Eifuku while he was battling illness.

"I want to live until Chengshin graduates from high school,"

but that wish did not come true.

When Lee was in the sixth grade, his mother passed away at the young age of 6.

(Lee Seung-shin)
"I was in and out of the hospital repeatedly and understood as a child that I was sick, but when I first died, I didn't really believe it or really feel it.

"I want my mother to play in the World Cup"

It was my mother who supported Lee's rugby more than anyone else.

Lee in the second row, third from the left

He is also a rugby connoisseur with experience as a rugby club manager. I have watched my son play harshly and warmly.

"When I was playing rugby, my mother was always by my side. My mom, not my dad, often told me to practice."

During his lifetime, his mother had envisioned Lee playing in the World Cup since he was in elementary school.

She shared her memories with her mother.

(Mother, Yeongfu) "You should definitely play in the 2019 World Cup" (Lee Seung-shin)

"You can't do that yet"

Japan 2019 World Cup.

If he wants to play, Lee is only 18 years old.

It wasn't realistic for him to join the national team among the top players in the Japan.

Even so, my mother repeatedly conveyed her thoughts to her child.

Lee Seungshin

"I was longing for the World Cup, but to be honest, I didn't think I would be able to go realistically, but my mother believed in it and hoped for it,"

my mother said in the 2019 tournament.

Still, four years later, the longed-for World Cup is within reach.

Poor hospital life "My father supported me"

About a month after the loss of my beloved mother.

The ordeal struck Li boy again.

He suffered from kidney disease and had to stay in the hospital for a long time.

I can't exercise lightly and I can't play the rugby I love.

Doctors told him that he might not be able to play sports for a few years.

It was a time when I was shocked by the loss of my mother.

Filled with sadness and anxiety, Li cried in his hospital bed.

Father, Mr. Dongkei

"I think it was a double punch, only at that time I was very depressed. I haven't seen Cheng Xin's crying face since then, so I think it was a pretty big deal."

The father thought of and passed on words to his suffering son.

"It's okay, don't worry. Nothing could be worse."

Fortunately, the disease then made its way to recovery.

My father said, "I wonder if my late Omoni (mother) helped me."

"I have no choice but to live desperately"

Three brothers who lost their mother.

Rugby school years

Seeing their fathers working hard for them, they couldn't be bothered, so they all did their best to play rugby.

His relatives and parents at the rugby school supported him.

Lee Seung-shin: "I had to live desperately, because no matter how sad I was,
my mother would never come back. How much can I do my best for my family without bothering my father? After my mother died, I think I really became stronger as a person."

Lee later won the national championship in the junior tournament as the captain of the Hyogo Prefecture selection team of the rugby school.

Osaka Korean High School

At Osaka Korean High School, where he went to school, he was selected as a high school Japan national team in his second year, and ran up the ladder as a promising player with a promising future.

In a World Cup year

Uruguay National Team (June 2022)

Then, in June 2022, they played a test match against the Uruguay national team.

Finally, he made his debut as a representative of Japan.

In Lee's dorm room, there was a red hat from when he won his first cap.

He is the first Japan representative from a Korean school.

Lee blazed a new trail.

I was able to fulfill my mother's wish to become a representative of Japan.

France match (July 2022)

After that, he was also active in the match against France.

Visibility was good for the World Cup.

But it wasn't always going well.

Ligue One in February.

Lee played as the commander of the Kobelco Kobe Steelers against the leaders Saitama Panasonic Wild Knights.

In the 2th minute of the first half, a teammate's knee hit him in the face.

Lee cringed in so much pain.

He was replaced.

Lee described the pain of the impact as "the feeling of my eyeballs falling."

I pulled up to the locker room and couldn't help but nod.

Things looked double or distorted, and the pain and discomfort continued for a while.

The result of the diagnosis was a fracture of the eye or fundus of the right eye.

I couldn't play a role for the team.

Along with my apologies, my anxiety about the World Cup crossed my mind.

Injuries and illnesses are always a wave that comes to athletes.

How did Lee overcome these hardships?

There was the presence of my late mother.

(Lee Seung-shin) "When I have a hard time,
I imagine my mother's life battling illness and always think about it while replacing it with my mother. That's how I spend my time. You were very strong, Mom."

After the surgery, Lee worked hard to rehabilitate. He returned to the league almost 40 days after the serious injury.

Even after she died, with my mother, who still supports me.

Growing up to be a strong and kind child, the thoughts contained in the letter

During the interview, Lee's father, Dongqing, showed me an old album.

There was a letter written by a mother to her young son.

Letter from mother to Lee

"Always cheerful and cute with a smile Please give joy and trust to many friends and raise them to be masculine, strong, and kind" The "Shin" in the name of the name "Shin" expresses the wish to "

become a trusted person".

Li, who read the letter for the first time in a long time, said nostalgically.

"I was always told that I wanted to be a trusted person, and although I am only 22 years old, I want to be a strong, and kind person who is more trusted."

Father, Mr. Dongkei

And my father, who read the same letter.

He said while holding back tears.

"This letter contains the feelings of Omoni (mother), and I think that is how Joshin was raised,"

his expression was somewhat proud.

The Rugby World Cup kicks off in France in September.

The Japan National Team will hold training camps in Urayasu City and Miyazaki City, Chiba Prefecture from June, and will narrow down the final roster to 9 players.

Can I shine on French soil with my mother's thoughts in my heart?

Lee's real battle begins.

【NHK Special Website】Rugby World Cup 2023