Head coach of the Khuvsgul New Generation Club B.Boldbaatar successfully led a women’s volleyball team for the first time at the 2021 National Volleyball Premier League. He plans to coach his athletes for the Asian Championships and win medals in the next five years. In the following interview, B.Boldbaatar delved into his sports journey.
It is rare for a team from rural areas to qualify for the National Volleyball League. For the first time, you coached the Khuvsgul New Generation Club to compete against the best. When did you start coaching your team?
Director of the club Kh.Erdenebaatar offered me a job to form a new volleyball team and work as a coach in 2018, as I had played in the national volleyball league for many years. Since then, we have worked together and selected 50 male and female players for our team from 21 soums of Khuvsgul Province. We trained them in Ulaanbaatar for three months, and selected 30 athletes to compete in the Adult Volleyball National Championships. The following year, both the men’s and women’s teams won a bronze medal at the National Championships. Last year, the women’s team played in the National Premier League for the first time.
Last year, your students beat the Enagura team that won the National Premier League, the reigning champion for four years in a row, right?
I played in the National League for many years, so I was mentally prepared for the premier league. In the first match, our team played against the reigning champion, Khilchin, and lost 3:2. In the next match, we defeated Enagura, the 2019 champion. I studied the two competitors a lot and made a plan before the tournament. I instructed my players not to give key players of our rival team a chance to attack. Our team won the first game with this tactic. However, experienced teams studied our tactics and beat us. After the tournament, I realized that I needed to upskill my team members so that they could play better.
The manager of our club used to live in the Czech Republic and Hungary for many years. So we’re planning to invite an athlete from Hungary to play in the women’s team next year. During the meeting with the Hungarian ambassador to Mongolia, we made a request and signed a cooperation agreement. We plan to go to Hungary and watch the Premier League matches and decide which athlete to invite to our team.
Coach of the Enagura Club B.Kherlen did not expect your players to beat his team, right?
Our generation has known B.Kherlen since childhood. He was my teacher when I was a student at the Mongolian National Institute of Physical Education. He looked pretty upset with that game. For me, it was the first time my team had competed in the National Premier League, so I wanted to gain experience, feel what a major league game is like, and understand how our players can succeed the next year. Then, after beating Enagura, I changed my mind. My principle is to focus on statistics and keep my athletes optimistic during competitions.
Will your team participate in the Khangai region competition?
The regional public tournaments are held in three categories. Our men’s and women’s teams were qualified to participate in the Khangai region competition in Uvurkhangai Province this May. Athletes from six provinces will compete there, and the first and second place teams will advance to the National Championships. We plan to successfully participate in the Khangai region competition – our goal is to become a champion.
Your peers are still playing. For instance, Ch.Otgonbayar plays for the Darkhan 60 Club and A.Munkhbayar and R.Khangai are playing for the Altain Tigers Club. I think you became a coach a little early. Why did you switch to coaching?
In 2000, I started playing volleyball under the guidance of L.Amarbold, a teacher of School No. 3 of Murun soum in Khuvsgul Province. I graduated from high school in 2006 and took a two-year break from volleyball. Then, I trained at the Kharkh Club in Orkhon Province and participated in the National Championship. Putting my work and life aside for a while, I became a member of the Tenuun-Ogoo Club in 2011 and played for the club until 2015. That year, when I was training with the national team, I damaged my knee ligament and couldn’t play for a while. At that time, Director of the Tenuun-Ogoo Club A.Gankhuyag offered me a coaching job. In 2012, our team won the public volleyball tournament. In addition, the men’s team earned a magnificent triumph in the tournament held by Mongolian Volleyball Association in 2015, and the women’s team won a bronze medal in the 2019 National Premier League.
You have previously trained Mongolian volleyball players in South Korea, right?
Yes, together with Ch.Otgonbayar from the Darkhan 60 Club, I took members of the Road to Medal Volleyball Club to South Korea for joint training. As a result, their skills improved significantly. Eight players, who now play for the Darkhan 60 Club, trained with volleyball teams from seven cities in South Korea back then. Before I went there, I realized that I had a different view of volleyball in Mongolia. I noticed that Korean athletes are slower than us in learning. Because of their good conditions, they train three times a day. Seeing members improve dramatically within a short span of time, Korean coaches asked, “How are your players learning so fast?” Realizing our students’ strengths, they invited athletes from Mongolia to play for their teams.
Ts.Orkhon, the daughter of N.Uranchimeg, who used to play basketball for many years, is a rare tall player in Asia. She is now 17 years old but measures 1.97 meters in height. At the age of 15, she went to South Korea to study. She plans to change her nationality and compete in the Korean National Premier League next year. Ts.Orkhon now plays for a high school team. Mongolian coaches kept asking me why I had let such a talented child go to South Korea. But I had a different opinion. So I made this decision, considering her future.
Were Ts.Orkhon and J.Saruul athletes of the Khuvsgul New Generation Club? I heard that they received a scholarship in 2019 to study in South Korea.
Yes. As a young man, I bravely sent two athletes to South Korea. The Koreans agreed to pay for everything. Therefore, we flew there and made a contract. J.Saruul also plays for the high school team. Moreover, players of the Enagura team D.Anujin and S.Bulgantamir are trained under the guidance of the coach who trains Ts.Orkhon in South Korea. Their coach is recognized there for training promising volleyball players. In South Korea, if coaches train good athletes and include them in the national team, they receive a certain percentage of bonuses. So they work hard.
Why didn’t you continue playing as an athlete even after recovering from your injury?
After the injury, I worked as a coach for two years. I found my job interesting and even fell in love with it. At that time, my contract with the Tenuun-Ogoo Club expired and I talked to my director about renewing it. He said, “Let’s change the team and produce the best athletes. You invite and bring skilled people. We just have to win any competitions. I will support you in everything.” I wanted to form a team of young and talented players and lead them to success. Then, J.Naranbaatar, the owner of the Hobby Ace Club, said, “Our team has some skilled girls. I heard that your contract with Tenuun-Ogoo has expired. Lead our team and win the Confederations Cup.” He made that offer as if he knew what I was interested in, so I gladly agreed. The Hobby Ace Club was founded in 2017 and won the Mongolian Volleyball Association Cup. I can’t call myself a good coach. But I try to be tireless and hardworking.
How persistent do you consider yourself to be?
I formed three women’s teams in Mongolia and prepared them for the national premier league. Two of them won medals in the premier league. I am proud of that. Now, I will work to make athletes of the team I formed in my homeland, Khuvsgul, successful. I care about the future of young players and aim to make them successful.
Coaching men’s and women’s teams alone is not easy. Who is your assistant coach?
D.Shivoontsoo, who plays for the Altain Tigers Club, is our assistant coach. He came to the Tenuun-Ogoo Club from Bayankhongor Province in 2015 to become my student. While working with him for a while, I went to coach the Hobby Ace Club and he stayed to play for Tenuun-Ogoo. After founding the Khuvsgul New Generation Club, I offered him a job as an assistant coach. I told him, “Let’s develop a system to train children. During big competitions, be responsible for the training of my athletes and help me with my work.” It’s not easy for me to coach men’s and women’s teams on my own. Therefore, we also hired A.Munkh-Erdene, a former player of the Altain Tigers Club, as an assistant coach.
How does your family support you?
My family was very supportive when I played volleyball. I take after my father’s height. My two younger brothers have been playing volleyball since they were kids. One of them plays for the Khuvsgul New Generation Club. I got married late. Our eldest son is five years old and the youngest is two years old. My wife is G.Zolzaya who is a student of State Honored Coach Ts.Tseverbal. She now plays basketball for the National University of Commerce and Business.