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Korean Field Hockey Takes On World

Posted September. 19, 2006 06:54,   

한국어

The 11th men’s Field Hockey World Cup came to an end on September 18, with Germany taking away the trophy. Among the final 12 countries, Korea enjoyed continuous popularity similar to that of host country Germany, during the championship. All ten thousand seats at Moenchengladbach stadium were packed, and the hurriedly added three thousand extra seats were also sold out. Regarding the Korea-Germany match on September 14, a German newspaper wrote, “380 people played an equal match against 450 thousand people.” 380 is the number of registered Korean adult hockey players, while 450 thousand is the scale of German players.

Defeating powerful teams despite poor conditions-

After winning their first match against the Netherlands, second in world rankings, Korea moved on to defeat strong hockey nations England and India to enter the semifinals. Although Korea finished fourth, losing to Australia (world ranking 1st) in the semi-finals and Spain (ranked 3rd) in the third-fourth place match, German spectators have fallen for Korea’s lively and quick game. The national teams of both Poland and France have proposed to go to Korea for training sessions, and have said that they would like to have practice games with the country.

Korean men’s hockey has not shown good results since getting a silver medal at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. Currently, the total of adult hockey teams in Korea is five university teams and four business teams. Even Chongju University, the school which the present national team coach graduated from, has recently announced that it will get rid of its hockey team. This number is virtually meaningless compared to the tens of thousands of hockey club teams in Europe. It can be said that Korea placing fourth in the World Cup is nothing short of a miracle.

Korean team coach, Cho Sung-jun said, “We broke away from the Spartan style training and did free training in which the players themselves decided on the degree of training, the programs and even their food.” He added that, “because they enjoy the match, there’s great teamwork and the players become more creative in making plays.” He said he only gave the players ‘hunger,’ which means that the coach can only do the motivating, while it is up to the players to actually move this into practice. He sometimes appealed to them by saying, “You have to play well in order for the media to get interest, revitalize the team and make a way for hockey to survive.”

Proposals for training sessions in Korea-

In the present national team, 12 out of the 18 players were born after 1980. The future is bright as the shift in generations has been successful and players will be able to play with their full capacity in the Beijing Olympics in 2008. During the championship, Yoo Hyo-shik (Age 24, Korea Armed Forces Athletic Corps) who put in three field goals and Jang Jong-hyun (Age 22, Chosun University) who scored four penalty corner goals, have risen as promising hopefuls for the next generation.

Coach Cho said, “There are so few teams that young players are not willing to play hockey.” He added that, “If universities and businesses show a little interest and make a few more teams, winning a gold medal at the Olympics or gaining a reputation as a strong hockey team will not be a problem.”



jaeyuna@donga.com