KIM Sang-ryul has never played hockey for his country but today he is one of most successful coaches in the World Cup.
The South Korean coach has done a great job by helping China, who are making their debut in the World Cup, to remain unbeaten in their first two matches in the tournament.
The Chinese team are represented by the Inner Mongolian squad, and they played fluid hockey to hold world No. 7 England to a 2-2 draw in the opening Group B match.
And on Tuesday, the world No. 17 grabbed another point by holding world No. 11 Ireland to a 1-1 draw.
China will wrap up the fixtures with defending champions Australia tomorrow.
Sang-ryul said he learnt to become a coach after being sent to Patiala, Punjab in 1985 to learn everything about hockey.
“I spent nine months at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala and I was taught about hockey by India’s former Olympian Balkishan Singh.
“I have very high regard for Balkishan as he was my master. My basics are from India and it is still in my system.
“I was given the coaching certificate by the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, which I cherished the most,” said Sang-ryul.
“During my stay in Patiala, I not only learnt about coaching but I also ate all types of Punjabi food like chapati, sag and dhal.
“It was a good experience learning and understanding Indian culture.
“I must thank the India hockey federation for all the help they have given me then.
“And I love to come back to India for the World Cup as this was the place where my career in hockey started,” said Sang-ryul.
After returning to South Korea, Sang-ryul trained the men’s team who made a tremendous impact in Asia as well as in the world.
South Korea emerged as the Asia Cup champions in Hiroshima in 1994 and also in 1999 in Kuala Lumpur.
And their best outing was winning the silver medal in the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
Now Sang-ryul wants to achieve the same with the China team.
He wants China to become a power house in hockey and he would do whatever he can to achieve it.
“We have very dedicated players and they want to prove that China can create upset against stronger teams in the World Cup.
“I am pleased with this team’s performance in the first two matches.
“We gave a good fight to England and had the opportunity to beat Ireland to book our place in the second round but failed to do so.
“We have another match against Australia and we hope to give them a run for their money,” said Sang-ryul.
Malaysia hold Pakistan to a draw but need a miracle to advance