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The Enduring Saga of Kim Sang Rhyul (11/30/2018)
--K. Arumugam
Coaches never die. Their role in shaping teams too never fade away from memory. Here in Kalinga stdium, we have just witnessed the scene repeating, truth reinforced. Yes, we are talking about South Korea's hockey brain Kim Sang Rhyul. His innovation and assertion for fitness put India and Pakistan hockey in its place in the 80s through 200s.


As China today held the highly rated England 2-2 on Day 3 in the Odisha World Cup, his illustrious image gets further glitz, and turns the limelight on the ageing, but shining star.

Kim interestingly studied in National Institute of Patiala, where under double-Olympian Balkrishen Singh as Chief hockey coach taught his the essence of Indian and European hockey in the early 80s.

When he was made coach of the South Korean team that was preparing for the 1986 Asian Games, his team of little dynamos extinguished India and Pakistan in the Seoul number. For the first time, India did not enter the final of the Asian Games.

Dejected giants went on to flop in the same fortnight at Wisdon World Cup, fighting for wooden spoon.

In the 1994 Hiroshima Asian Games, his South Korean team blossomed to great extent.

He devised a way to outwit India in the final. It was here he introduced stopping the injector balls during PC drills far ahead of circle and then the stopped the ball is brought back to the circle to finish with lightening goala. Till then, the injector ball used to be stopped on the edge of the circle.

This innovation stunned the Indians. They had conceded essential goals this way in the crucial final to lose again.


The then Hockey Rules Board (HRB), had to burn their midnight oil to contain him, and its how the dotted lines bordering all allong the semicircle was introduced.

The new modification had to be made by the HRB to contain his method of converting penalty corers. Mere fact that a new rule has to be made by the global body speaks volume about this man's vision.

When India failed to put it across Poland in the last pool match of the Sydney Olympics, South Korea, which tallied India with points, goal difference, and goal aggregate, got a chance to enter the final, as it had beaten India in the group match.

Its here his boys devised another plan: to charge boldly to prevent PC shots being taken. Those were the times the five defenders in the PC drill will wait for the hit or scoop to be taken to block them, but his boys ran 'suicidally' to prevent such shots. Each of the charger got injured, but the team saw Pakistan off in the semis. He spent almost six years with Korean girls and then famously said that he would never coach women's team again in his life.

When China got alloted Olympics, he was taken as imported coach for Chinese boys. His Chinese boys, never known to be a force to reckon with, defeated India in the Doha Asian Games.

Undaunted, they went on to defeat Pakistan in the semis too.

With his motherland team Korea or professional assignment with neighbouring China, he made his teams memorable.

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