With tough love Son Heung-min’s father nurtures teen footballers

With tough love Son Heung-min’s father nurtures teen footballers

Football coach Son Woong-jung, who is also the father of Tottenham Hotspur striker Son Heung-min, stands with a football at Son Football Academy in Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, July 11. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

‘Tiger dad’ Son Woong-jung passes down secret recipe for success to next-generation athletes

By Lee Hae-rin

Chuncheon-Son Heung-Jung, 60, the father of Son Heung-min, a striker in the English Premier League Tottenham Hotspur, sees 11 young players dribbling on the pitch with sharp eyes and screams. Don’t let anything distract you! Don’t drop the ball!

His thundering voice cuts through the air on the soccer field. The teenager listens enthusiastically to what he says and concentrates on handling the ball with his head and feet, as Son Heung Min was Alter. The charismatic coach stands cold and stern, sitting with both hands while a teenager bounces a soccer ball all at once for more than 20 minutes.

You don’t want to play soccer, right? Or do you not want to be here? His son tells one of the teenagers and looks into his eyes. He asks if the boy wants to go home. “We are all here to be happy to play soccer on the field.”

Son Woong-jung watches over 11 young athletes as they practice lifting the ball. Trainees at Son’s academy are to master all of the basics of ball control and are not allowed to shoot until they turn 15, just as Son Heung-min did. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk


His “strong love” for the next generation of athletes ends with him hugging each and every boy after training. He is frank and strict, but he is also a warmhearted person. He is also serious about football-and the future of young athletes. The eldest son is not in the limelight of the media.

Few people know that he is eloquent and meticulous, probably because he doesn’t interview the media often. Not only did he make sense, but it was also thought-provoking.

Like his famous son, his eldest son was also a soccer player at an early age. Born in a poor family in Tho, Chungcheongnam-do, he said he was passionate about soccer from an early age and moved to Chuncheon, Gangwon-do to attend a junior high school for a great soccer team. However, his football career abruptly ended when he retired at the age of 28 due to an Achilles tendon rupture.

He is humble enough to say “terrible” as a soccer player.

“I was a terrible player … someone once said I was a player in the 3rd or 4th division. I think this explains exactly that I am a soccer player. “Masu,” the eldest son said in an exclusive interview with The Korea Times. July 11 Chuncheon, Gangwon-do.

However, this third part soccer player trained his son to be one of the greatest Korean soccer players in history. His little son became the first Asian soccer star to win the English Premier League Golden Boot Award in May.

With tough love Son Heung-min
Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during a match with Team K League at Seoul World Cup Stadium, June 13. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk


The eldest son points out that Son Heung-min is still a long way from, contradicting the explanation that his son is “world-class”, staying humble and working hard to improve his performance.

When asked about the secret to growing his son into one of the top performers in the Premier League, he told his two sons (Hung Min is his second son) that he kept telling his two sons that the ball had a secret in football.

“Soccer is all about the ball, so athletes need to learn how to handle the ball from the beginning,” he said.
He compared practicing with a ball to building a jigsaw puzzle.

“Let’s say you have a whole new nifty puzzle and give it to grades 2 or 3 and adults to see who can do it faster. Kids can learn it within a day or two. There is sex, but adults can’t master it after being given a week, “he said, emphasizing the importance of solid basic skills as a child.

In addition to early football education, seniors The son also emphasizes the importance of training
The rigorous upbringing of his famous son gave him the nickname “Tiger Father”.

But for his son, he is more than a strict father. He is a life coach and a source of inspiration for his son to improve his skills and keep his past achievements in check. The eldest son reads a lot to keep feeding his son. He is enthusiastic about reading books of all genres. He is always thinking about football. When great ideas come up at night, he immediately wakes up and writes them down.

Tottenham Hotspur Son Heung-min, right, and Harry Kane give each other a hug during a match with Team K League. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk


Some Tottenham fans were aware of the role of the eldest son behind his son’s extraordinary success in the Premier League. The column “Daniel Levy Must Sign His Son Heung Min’s Father” written by Avery Farmer in 2018 for SB Nation, an online community for Tottenham fans, says

It’s running as smoothly as it is now. I hope he finds opportunities to develop bigger and better players. “The
brother admitted that his father was a true mentor inseparable from his football career, he said in a local interview. Media: “My football is entirely my dad’s job.”

In this photo taken with a drone, Son Woong-jung poses for a shot on the field at the Son Football Academy. Before becoming a football coach to his son, Son Heung-min, Son had been a professional player and retired early due to an Achilles tendon injury at the age of 28. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk


Like father, like son

Son Heung-min was in third grade when he first told his father that he wanted to be a professional soccer player. His father didn’t want his son to live the life of a soccer player because his memory of sports was traumatic.
However, his father soon realized that his son’s enthusiasm for football could not be stopped.

“We were in a very difficult situation when his son wanted to be an athlete. I was financially the worst. And because Harukawa is surrounded by mountains, it snows in winter. There was a lot of cold wind.

After early retirement, the eldest son had to do multiple jobs to support his family. From day-time workers at construction sites to fitness instructors at the gym in the community center, the boy did everything he needed to make ends meet as a family earner.

The eldest son also devoted himself to giving him the best. What they had with a typical father, the boy got up early in the morning and picked up all the stones from the schoolyard to prevent him from being injured if he fell and threw away more than 100 bags of salt.

The field of my son’s school was held every day to keep the earth dry in the summer and thaw in the winter. On snowy days, I shoveled snow with a wooden plow to ensure that the corners were large enough for my boy to dribble and practice.

One of the Sons’ well-known training method is to keep the ball in the air for three laps. First with your right foot, then with your left foot, and finally with your left foot, alternating left and right without touching the ground. If the ball falls, the boy will have to go back and start over, no matter how close he gets to the finish line. By the time his son joined the junior soccer team and played his first match with his peers at the age of 16, his total ball control training time was 5,110 hours.

In a recently published memoir entitled “Everything Starts with the Basics,” the eldest son stated that it would take at least five years for bamboo to take root deep into the ground before it spreads its trunk and leaves upwards. rice field. Similarly, he believes athletes need years of basic training to become stronger, like bamboo, which can withstand harsh weather.

Son Woong-jung passes a ball to a young athlete while training at the Son Football Academy. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk


Korean football

My son is one of the football professionals who deeply regrets how athletes are trained and consumed.
He pointed out that South Korea’s ineffective youth education system drives young athletes into extreme competition, but such efforts have no consequences.

Despite the country’s enthusiasm for football, Korean football remains “ambiguous” around the world, if not nonexistent.
“Garbage in, garbage out. To change the output, you need to change the input,” the son said frankly. “It’s as easy as that.”

He said the most deep-seated problem in Korean soccer is the youth soccer system. It focuses on results while closing your eyes. The team participates in local tournaments on the health and career of athletes. Mr. Son said he witnessed and experienced the systematic irregularities faced by young athletes from his experience as a young trainee and professional athlete.

“These players are forced into fierce competition and push their bodies to the limit. Burnout is too early for their age and must retire before reaching prime minister,” Son said.

Instead, Son said the country needs to look at the future of young people from 10 to 15 years from different angles and invest in their future.

He said that was the reason he kept his son away from the football scene for seven years. He didn’t have to rush because it was more important for him to spend more time focusing on himself and mastering the basics than playing games or training in the camp.

The eldest son believes that the future of Korean soccer will change when the education system for youth players changes. If sports officials have a long-term view and invest more in the careers of young athletes, “reaching 16 rounds in the World Cup 15 years from now will not be a big challenge.”

As he wrote in his book, his son believes that there is no failure for the children, only experience. “We need to invest more time,” Son said.

This aerial photo of the Son Football Academy shows Son Woong-jung and his young athletes training on two junior football fields. The 66,000-square-meter academy opened last October and has three football fields, two futsal fields, a domed stadium and an indoor clubhouse. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

Next-generation athletes

The eldest son is now passing on his academy’s up-and-coming soccer players with football education know-how and expertise.

In October 2021, the Son Football Academy opened in the mountainous area of ​​Harukawa. Harukawa is the place where his eldest son came to learn football alone at the age of 14 and is also the hometown of Tottenham strikers.

The 66,000 sq ft Soccer Academy is a utopia for aspiring young players and a collection of thoughts and lessons from the life of their eldest son as a soccer player-to young players, professional athletes, and his son. As a soccer coach. While living in Germany and the UK to support his son’s sports career, he said he studied where and how youth soccer education takes place and took notes on ideas.

The Academy has three soccer fields. One is for adult standard play and two are for junior play. The dome-shaped stadium provides indoor space for training on cold, snowy, and rainy days, and two futsal pitches teach your son challenging soccer techniques and skills.

“This is a place where kids can save energy and stamina and focus on learning techniques because they don’t have to run around to pick up the ball,” said the boy, pointing to the futsal pitch. The field also has a sprinkler system to keep young athletes cool on hot summer days.

In addition to the football field, the institute has rooms, a fitness center, and a rest area for the development of theory and strategy.

My son believes that a good soccer field is like a safe and solid home for athletes.

“I hope this place will help young athletes become great athletes in the future,” Son said.


Son Woong-jung ties his shoelace before a training session with 11 young athletes begins at the Son Football Academy. Three of Son’s recent graduates have made it to the youth league in Europe ― two in Paderborn and one in St. Pauli. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk

The Son Football Academy is one of the main sports tourism venues in Gangwon Province designated by the Korea Tourism Organization.


Credit/Source : https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/sports/2022/07/600_332960.html

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