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Posted at: Dec 4, 2018, 2:07 AM; last updated: Dec 4, 2018, 2:07 AM (IST)

China make a mark, thanks to their made in India coach

China’s South Korean coach Kim Sang-Ryul learnt his first lessons from legendary Balkrishan Singh at NIS, Patiala.
China make a mark, thanks to their made in India coach

Indervir Grewal

Tribune News Service

Bhubaneswar, December 3

Celebrated South Korean coach Kim Sang-Ryul’s return to India after more than 10 years started has been “enjoyable” so far. His new team, China, started their World Cup campaign with a shocking 2-2 draw with England. And that, too, in their debut World Cup! On a personal note, returning to India has brought back fond memories from his first real experience with the country over 30 years back. 

In 1985, Kim was keen to learn the basics of hockey, but the sport was not very big in his country back then. So, an adventurous Kim decided to come to India, which was still very big in the sport. He landed in Patiala, at the National Institute of Sports. He became a protégé of the great Balkrishan Singh. Balkrishan won gold in the 1956 Olympics and was the chief coach of the team that won the gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Kim learnt his trade under the famed coach for a year, and the first lessons have “stayed with him till now” and helped him reach great heights.   

After leaving Patiala, Kim transformed men’s hockey, while also helping in the development of the game in South Korea. As a coach, Kim led South Korea to an Asian Games title, a podium finish at the Champions Trophy, but his biggest achievement was to guide the men’s team to an unprecedented Olympics silver medal, in 2000. Kim’s Korea had held one of the greatest Netherlands team ever 3-3, after falling behind 0-3, in full time. They, however, lost in the penalty shootout.

He took over the women’s team but a controversial quote about women hockey players in South Korea led to his departure. He had criticised the players saying women didn’t understand instructions properly. He had also vowed to not coach women again. The uproar his statement caused meant that he had no job in South Korea. But he was offered a job in China and has been working in the country for over 10 years. After a stint with the national team in 2008, he went back to coaching at the national level. He returned to the national team in March this year. Coaching a skilful, “brave and disciplined” bunch, Kim is hopeful of creating another good memory in India.

What about a trip to Patiala? “I hope to go there not just for hockey but also for sightseeing. I have such fond memories from there, I want to revisit those memories,” he said.

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