Hockey World Cup 2018: China gets Patiala hockey lessons, Kim Sang Ryul style

Having learnt hockey at the National Institute of Sports Patiala in 1985, China coach Kim Sang Ryul is "very happy to come again to India after a long time."

Kim Sang Ryul first moulded Korea into Olympic medallists in 2000 and now, for more than a decade, has been working away building up the Chinese side from scratch. Photo: Getty Images

For long Indian hockey lived in denial, content in its past glory and believing it had little need to learn from others. That left it struggling and now, even as the Indians wander the world in search of missing pieces to rise back to the top, there are those who continue to swear by the knowledge they acquired here, garnished by their own experiments to succeed.

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Kim Sang Ryul is one such student. Having learnt hockey at the National Institute of Sports (NIS) Patiala way back in 1985, the Korean first moulded his home team into Olympic medallists in 2000 and now, for more than a decade, has been working away building up the Chinese side from scratch. But he continues to go back to his NIS days.

‘Cherished possession’

“Of course, I learnt hockey in Patiala from Balkishen Singh. There were five coaches then, all really fantastic and they have taught me everything about hockey. That NIS certificate is still my most cherished possession. I learnt Indian hockey but then I create my own way of hockey by combining some things. My basic hockey is from India and it will always be in my system,” he admits.

The Chinese team (in yellow) is one of the participants in the ongoing Hockey World Cup. Photo: Getty Images

 

The other things include lessons learnt from Siegfried Aikman, the Dutchman who is a mentor to many of the coaches currently here at the World Cup. Those lessons helped him beat India and Pakistan at the 2006 Asian Games with China and the development has continued.

‘Happy to come again’

But his targets are higher, and even an upset draw against England doesn’t satisfy Kim. “They can play better, they can organise better in defence and attack. My aim is to teach them different types of hockey first and then, if they can do something, they can achieve different results,” he says with the ever-present smile that hides his grit and determination.

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“I feel very happy to come again to India after a long time, I remember Patiala and my classmates and friends. My aim has been to take their hockey and then change it. We cannot keep playing only our styles, we need to mix things,” he explains. Kim has shown how.