“If you don’t want to be a frog in a well, go abroad,” says Japanese development expert to Korean volleyball after joining Ogino Division

“If you don’t want to be a frog in a well, keep questioning yourself and studying.”

OK Financial Group hired one of Japan’s volleyball legends, Masa Ogino, as its third head coach on March 1. Ogino, who made a name for herself as an outside hitter for the Japanese national team, as well as the Japanese league, is now in charge.

Ogino brought in Kiyoshi Abo as an assistant coach to assist him. Born in 1970, Abo began coaching in 1998. He has worked primarily in women’s volleyball. He first made a name for himself as a coach when he was the head coach of the Japanese women’s national team from 2009 to 2012. He helped Japan win a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Abo expressed his desire for Korean volleyball players to go abroad and gain experience. Photo (Yongin)=Jungwon Lee
In particular, Abo has experience as a coach of Japan’s women’s age-group national team from 2014 to 2019. She brought home a silver medal at the 2014 U19 Asian Championships, fourth place at the 2015 U20 World Championships, silver at the 2016 U19 Asian Championships, gold at the 2017 U23 Asian Championships, bronze at the 2017 U20 World Championships, and gold at the 2018 U19 Asian Championships.

“Coach Abo has a meticulous personality and is very interested in the strategy and tactics of volleyball, and he also has a good understanding of the game,” said a representative from OK Financial Group.

He served as the sporting director of Japan’s women’s volleyball team Victory Himeji from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and last season he took over as the head coach of Victory Himeji. She is leaving Japan to start a new chapter in South Korea.

In a recent interview with MK Sports, Abo said, “There is a very good feeling of nervousness and excitement to be here. I’ve been coaching for a long time, but I’m excited to start fresh in Korea. I am also looking forward to making OK Financial Group even better.”

Mr. Ogino was called to Korea. Why did he choose to start over in Korea?

“We first met at a coaching academy organized by the Japanese Olympic Committee. When the director gave me the offer, he told me a story. He said, ‘In order to build a good organization, we need to develop young coaches.’ I had been in charge of running various sports before. So maybe he thought I was the right person to develop young coaches,” he laughs.

Ogino’s main emphasis with the OK Financial Group players is on defense and how to react to game situations. The same goes for Coach Abo. He emphasizes communication between players on the court.

“The most important part of practice is to keep simulating and practicing the situation. “If you’re looking to the bench, the manager, or the coach for answers to things that happen during a game, you’re not going to be a better team. It’s up to the players to find the answers to every play that happens in the moment. To find the answers to the best options that the players and the coaching staff have been practicing since June. I and the coaching staff will try to give them the answers so that they can be steady on the court and do well.”

He also talked about the recent turnaround in Korean-Japanese volleyball. Not to mention men’s volleyball, the gap between the two countries has been widening since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the retirement of Kim Yeon-kyung. Japan swept South Korea 3-0 at the 2023 Volleyball Nations League (VNL) on Nov. 16 (KST).

“From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Japanese volleyball could not beat Korean volleyball because every single Korean player was highly skilled,” says Abo. “Japan has the small physique of an island nation, not the physique of a continent. But volleyball is not a game that can be won with a physique advantage alone. Japanese players tried to bring any one advantage over other countries’ players.”

When asked if they had a message for Korean volleyball, they expressed their desire to go abroad and gain experience. With the exception of Kim Yeon-kyung (Heungkuk Life), Yoon Bong-woo (KBSN Sports commentator), and Moon Sung-min (Hyundai Capital), who have experience in overseas leagues, there are very few players who have the passion to play volleyball overseas. With high salaries and abundant support, it is difficult to find players who are willing to take on the challenge and go abroad.

“I want Korean players and coaches to go abroad if they have the opportunity. It would be a great experience. I tell Japanese players, too, that being a frog in a well can narrow your view of volleyball. You have to question yourself,” he said.

“In Japan, coaches and players are constantly traveling and studying abroad. I question whether the volleyball I’ve been playing is right, and I study with coaches from other countries. Coach Ogino studied in Brazil, and I studied with various coaches in Azerbaijan, Russia, and Turkiye. It’s much better to get on an airplane and go out there and see and feel what they’re doing than to bring them in and just listen to them talk. When you have that experience, you realize, ‘I shouldn’t be stuck like this,'” he said.토토사이트

He added, “There are players within OK Financial Group who want to build opportunities. It’s not just OK Financial Group. When Korean players have the opportunity to go abroad, I want them to go. If they come back, it will be a good stimulus for other players,” he encouraged.

Coach Abo, who is already sweating thickly with the OK Financial Group players, said, “We are doing well in a good environment without any inconvenience.” “Coach Ogino, I want to play volleyball without gaps with the players. I also want the players to feel happy when they play. I will do my best to help OK Financial Group go to greater heights.”

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