“They asked me to set up a long-term project in Thailand”…A 72-year-old master still thrilled to be on the court, has become a Thai volleyball hero

“They want me to set up a long-term project in Thailand. In two or three years, my name will be remembered.”

Park will lead the Thai men’s national volleyball team from 2023. He returns to the helm after a three-year absence after stepping down as Korean Air’s head coach at the end of the 2019-20 season.

Park previously coached in Italy in the 1980s and 1990s and was the head coach of the Iranian national men’s volleyball team from 2002 to 2006. He coached LIG Insurance (now KB Insurance) from 2007 to 2010, the South Korean national men’s volleyball team from 2011 to 2016, and Korean Air from 2016 to 2020. In the 2017-18 season, he led Korean Air to its first championship.

Since returning to the volleyball court after a three-year absence, Park has transformed the Thai men’s game. He succeeded in transforming Thailand’s men’s volleyball team from an underdog to a cohesive unit. He led the team to victory at the 2023 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenger Cup in July.

Thailand qualified for the FIVB Challenger Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the AVC Challenger Cup. Something that could not have happened a year ago has been happening since Park Ki-won took over as head coach.

“I came to Thailand to have a hobby, but when I work, I get greedy again,” Park said after the second qualifying match against Qatar in Group E of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Linping Sports Center Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China on Tuesday. It’s great to be playing volleyball like this now,” he said with a smile, “I want to make something happen now that I’ve started. Of course, it will take a while for me to lead this team and do well in Asia. But I want to lay some foundation and make this team work,” he said.

Since returning to Thailand from Doha, Qatar, where the FIVB Challenger Cup was held, the reaction of Thai volleyball fans has been different. The popularity of the sport, which was previously centered on women’s volleyball, is now spreading to men’s volleyball as well.

“When we came back, we were heroes in Thailand. The fans’ attitude towards the players has changed. In the past, when I arrived at the airport, there was no one there. Now it’s different. I can’t even move. That’s how much men’s volleyball has changed. For me, they even gave me a passport so I can come into Thailand freely. It has changed in many ways,” he said.

With the steady growth of Thai players and their growing popularity, the Thai Volleyball Association is looking to build a long-term project with Park.

“They said, ‘Let’s make a long-term plan,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I think I’ll be the one. After the Asian Games, we will make a concrete plan. In two to three years, my name will be remembered,” he laughed.

Thailand completed its Asian Games qualifying schedule. They won 3-0 against Hong Kong on Sept. 19 and lost 1-3 against Qatar on Sept. 20. They finished second in their group behind Qatar and are expected to advance to the round of 12.토토사이트

“It’s good to win a game, but if you lose, you feel like you didn’t come for nothing,” said Park Ki-won, laughing, “Our players had a lot of ups and downs against Qatar. We weren’t at our best. It could be said that the height of the opponent’s players was high, but our players were not in good condition.”

However, he did not forget to give a word of encouragement to the players who always give their best.

“You can’t always do well,” Park said. The athletes competing in the Asian Games did not train properly. This year, I only went to competitions. I’m grateful that they followed me without getting annoyed.”

“When you sit on the bench, you get greedy, but I think it’s my greed that makes me want to win unconditionally,” he laughed.

The 72-year-old’s passion for volleyball is unquenchable.

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