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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 1, 2006

Dream world turns to reality for Ching

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

Brian Ching, front, says playing in the World Cup "is something I've always wanted to do practically since I began playing soccer."

AP LIBRARY PHOTO | Feb. 19, 2006

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Round-robin games

June 12 vs. Czech Republic at Gelsenkirchen

June 17 vs. Italy at Kaiserlauten

June 22 vs. Ghana at Nuremberg

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Brian Ching leaves for Germany on an airplane today, but you get the feeling it could just as easily be a magic carpet that transports him to the site of the FIFA World Cup.

From a scheduled appearance on "Good Morning America" today to the ceremonial send-off, there are ample reminders this is going to be a wide-eyed journey of discovery and challenge unlike any other for the already well-traveled 28-year-old from Hale'iwa.

While his Houston Dynamo team plays on in Major League Soccer, its star striker enters a pinch-me-quick realm on the world's biggest stage that he had only dared to dream about until recently.

Faster than you can say Gelsenkirchen, the Ruhr valley town where the U.S. team will open round-robin play against the Czech Republic June 12, the Kamehameha Schools graduate's world is changing by the minute and mile. And he's apparently ready to embrace it with the considerable passion that helped win a spot on the U.S. team.

"It is something I've always wanted to do practically since I began playing soccer, so I'm looking forward to every second of it," Ching said. "I'm just excited to see what it is all like, to experience everything. I'm looking forward to everything that surrounds the World Cup from the media attention to the fans ... "

You know the level of anticipation is high when there is untempered joy about facing the assembling world media hoard.

"I never really grasped the gravity of the event before," Ching said. "But now I'm starting to. I guess it is a little like going to see the circus in one sense, to see what it is all about because I have never really been part of one before. I mean, I've seen it on TV but you know that when you watch things on TV you don't always get the true feel for the atmosphere and how things really are at an event. For this one I'm going to see an event and be part of it and that will be something."

In that he will be more than a trailblazer for the state, he'll be taking us along for the ride as the first player from Hawai'i to make a World Cup squad. It is a heady distinction, one which you get the feeling he is both mindful of and proud to have earned.

"Being the first one makes me feel good about it because it is a chance to help bring so much recognition to the sport (here)," Ching said. "Maybe that can work and help make it bigger here. I know it is growing and that's what I want, too."

And if the man who was the MLS scoring leader until the U.S. team opened camp can get a goal, he says the celebration that follows will reflect amply upon both his roots and ingenuity.

"I've thought of a few possibilities," Ching said. "I definitely have a few things I'd like to do and (they) would definitely recognize Hawai'i. But I don't want to give it away, yet."

For his journey has become one of the surprises and he'd like to hold on to that for as long as he can.





June 22 vs. Ghana at Nuremberg

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.