Even now, Jeju United coach Nam Ki-il is evolving.
One of the key words to describe him these days is ‘communication’. The formerly blunt and authoritarian coach has been communicating extensively this season, leading to his team’s rise to prominence.
There’s a great example of Nam’s communicative approach. In one of the team’s YouTube videos, he played the role of a player-controlled ‘avatar’. In the video, Nam follows the instructions of Goo Ja-cheol and Lee Chang-min. If they tell him to tuck his trousers into his socks, he does, if they tell him to pass to the right, he does. He even goes along with a rather unorthodox plan that calls for a penalty kick. When his team concedes three goals, Nam says, “We have to stop the bus,” and shows his hidden humour by making fun of the latest K League issue.
The video, which was uploaded on the 26th of this month, has gone viral not only in Jeju but also among K League fans. As of the morning of the 28th, it had over 30,000 views and more than 100 comments. The comments are mostly about Nam’s transformation, or change. Comments such as, “I wonder if this is the same coach Nam Ki-il,” and “I am so happy as a fan that he is trying to change in a good direction and the results are good, and I think he is great as a human being.안전놀이터
Lim Chae-min, who watched the video, smiled and said, “I also watched the video and wondered if you had to do that.” Im Chae-min, who has been with Nam since his days at Seongnam FC, said, “He doesn’t usually talk much, but he seems to communicate better with the captains than he did at Seongnam. He listens to what the players are asking for.” “I think he made a big decision, and I’m grateful that he’s making such an effort. I think the timing was right. I think he has a lot to do with the atmosphere of the team.”
Nam started as acting head coach at the young age of 30 in 2013 and had to maintain a tough and forceful persona. It was a time when he struggled to maintain a strong persona to avoid being disrespected by the outside world and his players. Until last year, Nam’s style as a coach was somewhat rigid and stiff, and he maintained it at Jeju with a certain amount of self-assurance because he had achieved success that way. Indeed, Jeju won promotion, and the last two seasons have not been bad.
But he felt the need to make a change. He felt that unnecessary misunderstandings, conflicts, and uncomfortable relationships with players were affecting the team’s performance. After a series of events last year, Nam decided it was time to change with the times. He chose to actively communicate with his players.
“I thought I had to change in order to improve. “I realised that I needed to communicate more with the players rather than change myself. “I feel the importance of ‘foot communication’ where I make the first move instead of sitting still and waiting for the players to come to me.” “Listening to the players gave me faith. In fact, I started doing YouTube content to get closer to the players. They like it, so I do that too. I want to continue this kind of relationship.”
The communication effect is clear. Jeju have been on an impressive run of form recently, winning six and drawing one of their last seven K League One matches. Including the FA Cup, the team has won 10, drawn 1 and lost 1 in 12 official matches, a phenomenal pace. On the 27th, they came from behind to win 2-1 at home against Suwon Samsung in the 15th round of the K League 1 to move into sole possession of second place. The team is going into the season in a more positive mood than ever before.