The Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) football team won the 55th Spring Korea University Football Confederation (KUFC) Championship in Tongyeong for the first time on February 27th. SKKU has never won this tournament before, and has ended up in second place four times, including last year. As soon as Jeong Sung-chun, who succeeded Seol Ki-hyun as the coach, came in November of last year, however, he has led the SKKU team to first place, which was the first time for the SKKU team to win this tournament. Also, as the U-league, a university association football competition, began on March 22nd, SKKU players are doing their best on and off the field. The SKT met Coach Jeong Sung-chun to talk about his past life as a player, his current life as a football coach and his future plans for SKKU football.
From a Player to a Veteran Coach
Q1. Please Introduce yourself to the Kingos
I enrolled into SKKU in 1990 and graduated from the Department of Physical Education, which is now the Department of Sports Science. After graduation, I was in the Hallelujah football club (FC) and the Armed Forces Sports team until 1997. After that, I was selected as draft No. 1 in 1997 and joined Daejeon Citizens FC as a founding member until I retired in 2001. The draft system is one of the ways in which professional sports teams select rookie players. After my retirement, I worked at Geoje High School as a football coach until 2010. In 2010, I started to work at the Korea Football Association (KFA) as a full-time coach of the men’s football team and led the women’s national football team until last year. Today, I am currently working as the coach of the SKKU football team.
|Jeong Sung-chun, Coach of the SKKU Football Team|
Q2. What prompted you to start playing football?
When I was young, I began to get interested in football, watching my brother play football. I started playing football in the 4th grade of elementary school, and I played in the school football team for my entire time at school from elementary to university.
Q3. When you were a university student, what did you learn at SKKU as both student and player?
When I was in university, I studied hard as well as practicing football in order to have my cake and eat it, too. It was a tough four-year period because I had to take all of my school courses every day and exercise for the rest of the time. Through that time, however, my football skills developed a lot, and my adaptability improved, which helped me to get better prepared for social life after graduating from the school.
Q4. What made you decide to become a coach?
Like other university students, I worried a lot about my future career when I was in university. Becoming a coach was not my only dream, but after pondering on my career long enough, I decided to become a coach so that I could make use of my football skills.
A Veteran Coach with 17 Years of Experience
Q5. Is there any special reason for becoming a coach of the women's football team after your coaching life at Geoje High School?
It was just a lucky coincidence. While people only know my coaching experience of the women’s football team, in 2010 I first joined the Korea Football Association (KFA) as a coach of the men’s youth football team. At that time, the women’s national football team won the U-16 Asian Football Championship 2009 and accordingly qualified for the 2012 World Cup in Germany. They needed to get prepared for the World Cup but the team was in need of more coaches. Then I was appointed as a coach and entered the field of women’s football.
Q6. What lessons have you learned as a coach of the national team?
Since I can observe the best practices of the best players, lessons I learned as a coach of the national team filled up most parts of my coaching life. First, I learned the importance of building trust with players. Many people think that sports teams practice under an oppressive atmosphere, but I believe in the importance of respecting each other. I think that respect for players should always be put first over all the other steps. After building trust by respecting players, I conducted training and education in earnest. Moreover, I learned the importance of communication. I think the communication on and off the field
also undoubtedly played a big part in coaching the team. Although it was an honor to lead the national team, there were, of course, a lot of pressures in leading the team. I felt thankful for people cheering us, but at the same time I felt a lot of pressure to reward them by showing good results on the international stage and satisfying people’s interests.
|Jeong Sung-chun Coach and Players of the Women's Football Team, Who Were Training for 2014 Asian Games (sports.news.naver.com)|
Q7. What is your philosophy for coaching?
Since I have to deal with multiple players, rather than having a firm philosophy, I map out a customized strategy that can maximize the team’s capabilities after analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each player. I have relatively flexible coaching styles and strategies depending on the changing players of the team. In addition, my customized approach also considers the weaknesses and strengths of the opponents. Accordingly, I strive to achieve the best result from that. Even if I had my own specific coaching philosophy, it would be difficult if my philosophy did not suit some players and they were unable to follow.
Q8. What was the most memorable match throughout your coach life?
In fact, every game that I have been involved as a coach so far is unforgettable for me. If I had to pick out only one match, at the U-20 Women’s World Cup 2014 quarter-final with France would be the most memorable. At that time, the France national team was so competent that it was even hard for us to play for a draw. The game, however, ended at 0:0 after 120 minutes of fierce competition. Although we lost our last final penalty shoot-out and failed to advance to the semi-finals, that was the most memorable game for me. The players must have felt a lot of pressure standing on the path to the semifinals on the big global stage with a strong opponent, France. Nevertheless, they never gave up and did their very best. Therefore, I cannot forget their strong passion on that day.
|Jeong Sung-chun Coach and Players of the Women's Soccer Team, After the Game with Germany During the 2016 U-20 World Cup (sports.news.naver.com)|
Welcome Back to SKKU
Q9. You returned to SKKU as a coach after graduating in 1994. Are there any reasons as to why you cam back to SKKU?
Rather than having a special reason, I came back due to my strong school spirit. My love for SKKU, where I learned a ot while playing for the school team, was the only reason that I left everything behind and came back. I returned with a desire to develop the SKKU football team, create a better environment for the players, and lead them in a better way.
Of course, I have a sense of some pressure as a coach, but I am glad to be back at my alma mater.
Q10. As soon as you became a coach, the SKKU team won first place at the Spring Korea University Football Confederation Championship for the first time. What is your secret of winning?
Rather than trying to get the best results right away, I carefully analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of our team and the opposing teams and applied them to real games. One secret of winning this championship is the players who did their best. Even though being in second place was a good result, the fact that they have not got the first place was a huge stimulus for the players. The way to use fine details of the players that I learned from my experience of coaching the women’s football team was also very helpful. The university men’s football team has speed and power, whereas women’s football has finesse and sophistication. I harmonized those details coaching the SKKU team, which gave us the great result.
|SKKU Football Team won the 55th Spring KUFC Championship in Tongyeong for the first time. (Kingo Devil, Sungkyunkwan University Football Supporters)|
Q11. You are currently leading the SKKU football team very well. Do you have any goals to achieve as a coach?
The immediate goal is to get a good result in the U-League, which had its opening game on March 22nd. Although I won the first tournament after being appointed as a coach, since I have not got to know the best of all the players yet, I think it is the time to fully understand each player and fill the shortage. I want to keep developing the SKKU team every year and create the impression that SKKU is a powerful team by complementing the shortages and maximizing the strengths. My ultimate goal is to develop players and to help them achieve their maximum potential so that they can get to a better position in the future such as joining professional teams and English Premier League (EPL) teams.
Q12. Any last words for Kingos?
I would like to thank all of the Kingos who have continually supported the SKKU football team. Also, I hope more Kingos will show a lot of interest in us. Besides our
football team, I also hope Kingos pay much attention to the school sports teams such as basketball, baseball, and volleyball teams. Since fan’s support cheers the team a lot, your support serves as great energy and power, which helps SKKU sports teams develop more. All the members of SKKU’s football team including the players and staffs will try harder to come up with good results to satisfy the fans’ interests. I would like to see SKKU’s members united in cheering for the school sports teams regardless of their campus.