D.NANJID: Athletes’ psychology is more important than strength

D.NANJID: Athletes’ psychology is more important than strength

       I had an interview with journalist, football coach, sports commentator, and founder of Duchin Myangat United (DMU) FC, D.Nanjid. He previously worked at the “Daily Newspaper” as a sports editor and received the Best Sports Journalist of 2012. Recently, his Football team won the National Football Championship of 16-years-olds and we talked about his career, football club, and thoughts on team psychologist.

Thank you for accepting our invitation to the interview. Let’s start our question with your profession. You were a journalist before becoming a football coach. Why did you become a coach?

I majored in journalism. When I was in highschool, there weren’t any classes or extracurricular activities for football. Although there were many people interested in football, we had no way to learn. There were football classes in other schools albeit few, and I used to be jealous of them, because they had the opportunity to learn what I wanted. So, back in 2006, when I became a university student, a football tournament called Duulian was initiated nationwide under the auspices of President of Mongolia. Although I had already left high school, I found out that students couldn’t participate in it because there wasn’t anyone to coach them. Even though I didn’t get the chance to learn and participate in football tournaments, I wanted younger children to have that possibility. Therefore, I met with the principal and decided to voluntarily coach the students to participate in Duulian. That’s how I started. Since then, I have established DMU FC and our club has teams for the ages of 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 19, and adults with 300 athletes.

As for sports commentator, in 2006, I began by commenting on some football games of the World Cup. I hadn’t really done it again until 2012, when I commented on the Polish-Ukraine live game of European Cup. I was offered the job because I had the knowledge of tactics and techniques from coaching, as well as being informative from a journalist’s point of view. They thought it was the perfect match. Since then, I became a journalist, coach, and sports commentator.

It has been a long time since you began training children for football. Why did you establish your football club? And what has changed since then?

From 2006, I have been coaching children as my hobby, but in 2009, Mongolian Football Federation began requirement for teams that participate in tournaments to become a legal organization. The relationship with the Federation should be official and legal. A school team had no hierarchy or official stamps. Therefore, I established DMU in 2010.

Since I began training children, so much has changed in children’s ability. In 2006, Mongolian football had not yet developed. There weren’t much football clubs and only a few trained in this sport. However, now, people of all ages are interested. Even the number of clubs has risen since then. Clubs began changing in terms of quality. Back then, a football club would have a high chance of winning if one or two players in the team were good. Now, as football is developing, it is impossible to simply rely on a few good players. Achievement is only possible with many talented athletes and much practice and preparation. Previously, we didn’t train as much as now. We would prepare when the tournament dates were near, but now, we must train regularly to keep up and achieve.

What challenges have you faced since establishing a football club?

In general, it is hard to begin something but it’s harder to begin a football club in Mongolia. Football is the world’s best sport. Football needs many infrastructures, such as practice pitch, balls, and kits. This is a team sport, not a one-person sport. It’s challenging to take care of multiple people and their needs. As for Mongolia, the climate is challenging. Football is an outside sport, so it depends so much on the weather. Mongolia has four seasons that are extreme. Without summer, the rest is cold season. In addition, there are infrastructural issues. In Ulaanbaatar, there are only a few sports buildings and facilities. We don’t even have parking space for that matter. This is not only my problem. For instance, if I was a chess coach, there would be less challenges. I could simply rent a big space, buy chairs and desks, and I could focus on my teaching abilities and marketing of the club. But football needs practicing space and it costs a lot. We don’t develop in one training course, and we need multiple sessions, so there are some infrastructure issues. We are trying our best to make the best out of it. This is a problem for clubs developing a team’s sports.

In foreign countries, football clubs charge their training sessions for children and solve their financial problems. As for our club, we have never received training fees from our athletes. There used to be many requests from children and parents for us to do training, saying that our beat, tactics, and achievements were great. We didn’t receive them until summer 2023, when we had our first training. In the beginning, I used to put in what I earned from my journalism job to purchase kits. Then later, we had people and organizations supporting us. There have been many people, organizations, and provincial governments that have been supporting us as they can for a long time, which is how our club man.aged to operate for such a long time.

Do you learn from other coaches or create your own practice moves?

In the beginning, technology and social media were not developed and YouTube had bad quality videos barely usable. So, the football federation used to give us foreign training guidelines. Later, when social media began developing, we would get ideas from foreign teams and coaches. But since 2015, we began to mainly create our own practice moves with some ideas from teams abroad. Being a football coach requires you to think and be creative. If we use tactics and techniques from foreign teams, it could be useful, but it wouldn’t be the best solution. So instead, I make practice moves based on the qualities and abilities that are missing or lacking for my team, based on analyzing their games. The current football requires this from us.

I see that players sometimes get nervous orgive up on the field. How do you encourage your players to continue playing when that happens?

A coach prepares and guides players to play in the field. But the coach does not go out in the field, players do. Coaches should have the ability to affect players on the field. Although we won’t go kicking balls, we should be able to guide and coach them in the right direction. This is the coach’s main duty. As 11 athletes are on the field, anything can happen to them on the field, or in the athlete’s social life before the game, so a coach must give the optimal tactics and explanations.

I have worked with many teams, and every team has their own characteristic. In the beginning, there would be more results if we worked harder and pressured them more. But now, the characteristics and attitude have changed. If we pressure athletes now, there aren’t any who could overcome it. Gen Z works well with communication. There are examples in the world that regardless of your knowledge and expertise, you cannot succeed if you don’t communicate well. Maybe if you have an average experience, with good communication skills, you can succeed. Current jobs and occupations are more towards communication. So, a coach must include this skill in themselves to achieve greatness. If they fail to do so, they won’t meet the requirements. I wouldn’t say I have perfect communication skills, but I’m working on it and be more positive on the field saying that there are more possibilities.

There are 11 players with all from different backgrounds. Foreign teams have a specialized psychologist to manage the mental wellness of their team players and it is very important. However, in Mongolia, there isn’t any. What are your opinions on it?

I agree with it, 200 percent. Former French football manager Arsene Wenger said something about it in 1990. He said that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, football is based on athletes’ strength, speed, endurance, and stamina, but in the future, it will depend on athlete’s psychology. This is accurate and the time has come. For instance, there could be a child with sup-
porting parents that buy them their kits, taking them from and to practice, with a great coach. However, a child could fear and lose confidence when they see their opponents. So, the results of the game are affected by a single emotion, ruining the hard work of parents and coach. This shows how psychology is important. Mongolia is lacking in this area, and it needs to be developed.

For football club to develop, support of others, especially parents are vital. It is even recom mended so by FIFA. Our club is trying to have relationships with the parents. For instance, a parent of our club athlete works in the field of psychology, and we are planning to hire them this winter for main competitions of ages of 14and 16-year-olds and adult teams. I am looking
forward to the results it will achieve.

In your opinion, what are some common problems in Mongolian football clubs? What is lacking in Mongolian Football Federation?

When I look at other clubs, I think that they need organization. We didn’t receive much financing from the beginning, but our technique and philosophy were what made us stand out. Other clubs need to find their own philosophy and play by it.

People criticize that Mongolian Football Federation is failing to improve despite the massive financing from FIFA and AFC. But this sport is not a one-person sport, it is a very expensive sport that requires a lot of people to work and that much technical kits. It’s wrong to think that it should develop instantly by spending much money. However, Mongolian Football Federation needs a system that supports the clubs that are working hard and showing results. The federation needs to support its clubs with policies. For example, from 2015, they started monthly team financing of 300,000 MNT. To a club that received no funds, this was great. From 2019, the financing was raised to 400,000 MNT, but it was nowhere near enough. But they gave it to everyone, even to clubs that did not participate in competitions. However, what the clubs that are working hard and developing children is to finance them by their work, and optimally finance the fundings. As a member of the council of Mongolian Football Federation, I suggested to the Head of the federation to finance clubs based on their performance, and he has verbally accepted it. This is awaited by many clubs, and it is important for clubs to develop in the future.

What do you like most about this sport?

Football may not be the best sport in Mongolia, but it is in the world and many watch and play the sport. Football is a team sport, and all athletes should be great to achieve something. In Mongolia, teamwork is lacking. So, for children, by practicing this sport, although you may not become a professional player, you can become stronger and have teamworking skills. I believe that this can have a great impact in the Mongolian society.

What are future plans for you and your team?

Our club’s current goal is to win the trophy, but not our ultimate goal. The goal of our club is to improve the infrastructure and work to create an opportunity to continue training without interruption in any season of the year. There are many clubs with a goal like ours, and if we work hard football will develop whether we want it or not. Without it, it is difficult for football to develop. So, this is the goal of our club. My plan for the future aligns with my club’s goal.

Amarjargal Munkhbat