‘National team after 5 years of volleyball’ Kim Min-jae “I will try to rise to the same position as football player Kim Min-jae”

If you ask sports fans who comes to mind when they hear the name Kim Min-jae, they will most likely answer Kim Min-jae (27, SSC Napoli), the core of the Korean national soccer team’s defense. Kim Min-jae, who has been active since the first year of transfer and has established himself as a key member of Napoli’s first scudetto (Italian Serie A championship) in 33 years, is rumored to be transferred to a number of big clubs, including Manchester United, one of the world’s most prestigious teams, Newcastle and Paris Saint-Germain. He has grown into a world-class player.

In volleyball, there is Kim Min-jae (20) of the same name. Middle blocker Kim Min-jae, who started playing volleyball late in the first year of Inha Sadaebu High School and has the highest level of talent to wear the Taegeuk mark in 5 years, is considered the future of Korean volleyball as well as his team, Korean Air. If the current growth trend continues, we met Kim Min-jae, who will probably become a player comparable to soccer’s Kim Min-jae, in Bahrain, where the 2023 Asian Men’s Volleyball Club Championship is being held, and heard about his short volleyball life and future goals.

◆ Accidental volleyball became Kim Min-jae’s life

Considering that most elite sports players start exercising in elementary school or middle school at the latest, Kim Min-jae’s volleyball start was exceptionally late. Kim Min-jae, who has been in good physical condition since childhood, received scouting offers in various sports such as track and field, soccer, and kickboxing from elementary school.

Minjae Kim said, “His mother was absolutely against exercising. Still, he likes sports, so he was playing soccer, basketball, and volleyball with his friends,” he said. I was looking for a middle school student who could play volleyball because Inhasa University High School had too few players, so I couldn’t participate in the tournament, and I was selected there, so I entered Inhasa University High School and started playing volleyball.” Then, she laughed, saying, “My mother also thought about my study grades, and she didn’t object at that time.”

◆ Going straight to the pros was a feat for Kim Min-jae, who

was much taller than his peers and had natural endurance. Kim Min-jae, who had many talents, increased his skills explosively. However, because Inha Sadaebu High School had such a thin player base, there was no record of him winning a prize in a national competition. In addition, because the youth international competition was not held due to Corona 19, the national team was not convened, so it was difficult for Kim Min-jae to go to a prestigious volleyball university. The professional teams that happened to see Kim Min-jae’s talent offered Min-jae Kim to enter the rookie draft immediately after graduating from high school, and in the 2021-2022 rookie draft, Min-jae Kim was selected by Korean Air in the 2nd round, 1st place, and 8th out of all participants.

Kim Min-jae said, “There was a lot of advice from people around me to go to college because I have a short language skills. Still, I was greedy to go straight to the pros if I wasn’t going to go to a prestigious university,” he said. “I was really happy that my name was chosen earlier than I thought. For me, who played volleyball for just 3 years, 1st place in the 2nd round is a pretty high nomination,” he explained.

Kim Min-jae’s quick professional career has become a godsend. Minjae Kim’s skills grew even more in the systematic management and training program of his professional team. After spending his debut season, which was his adaptation period, and in the second year, the 2022-2023 season, Kim Min-jae was clearly imprinted in the heads of volleyball fans. Kim Min-jae’s B fast break, which puts his natural endurance at the forefront, fit perfectly into the volleyball goal of Korean Air coach Tommy Tilly Kainen. Kim Min-jae, who took the starting position from the beginning of the season, participated in 31 games and 117 sets and scored 234 points. He ranked 3rd in fast attacks (63.67%) and 7th in blocking (0.521 per set), quickly developing into a top middle blocker.

◆ Greedy Kim Min-jae “Last season was unsatisfactory”

The 2022-2023 season, where he firmly established himself in his second year as a pro. Both his position in the team and the figures he showed were likely to be satisfactory, but Kim Min-jae, who had a lot of greed to become a better player, was not satisfied.

The reason is that in the second half of the season, his deterioration in stamina was noticeably revealed and he was pushed out of the starting position. Kim Min-jae, who was the starting player until the 5th round, lost his starting position to Cho Jae-young (32) in the 6th round. Kim Min-jae, who played only two matches in the 6th round, was not able to stand on the court even for a moment in the championship match as he was pushed by Cho Jae-young. Looking back on his last season, Kim Min-jae said, “It’s a pity,” and said, “It’s especially regrettable that I couldn’t play in the championship game. I didn’t know how to manage my physical strength because I had a short year and was playing the season full-time for the first time.” He added, “I think it would have been really nice if I couldn’t play as a starter in the beginning, but then played as a starter at the end and played until the championship game.”

◆ “Middle blocker role model is Choi Min-ho of Hyundai Capital”

In the V-League, there are many outstanding middle blockers that Kim Min-jae can model. When asked if he had a role model, Kim Min-jae, who pondered for a long time, said, “From my play type, I think it’s Hyundai Capital’s (Choi) Min-ho hyung.” replied. When asked about Korean Air teammates Kim Kyu-min (33) and Cho Jae-young, he said, “(Kim) Kyu-min hyung has very good wrist snap and wrist strength, but I can’t play like that. (Cho) Jae-young hyung, please tell me a lot about the secrets of reading blocking and basic skills,” he said. Of course, I want to absorb all the strengths of the good middle blockers.”

◆ “I want to win the starting lineup in the national team”

After finishing the 2023 Asian Men’s Club Volleyball Championship, Kim Min-jae and teammates Kim Gyu-min, Lim Dong-hyuk, and Jeong Han-yong entered the Jincheon National Training Center to join the national team. The men’s volleyball team will compete in the 2023 Asian Volleyball Confederation (AVC) Challenger Tournament to be held in Taiwan in July.

Shin Young-seok (37) of KEPCO and Choi Min-ho (35) of Hyundai Capital, who have been regular middle blockers, are missing from the national team this time. Instead, Kim Min-jae, Kim Gyu-min (33, Korean Air), Kim Jun-woo (23, Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance), Park Jun-hyeok (26, Woori Card), and Lee Sang-hyun (24, Woori Card) were selected.

Kim Min-jae, who started playing volleyball in the first year of high school, was selected for the national team, the best place in five years. Kim Min-jae said, “There is nothing happy about him being elected after 5 years. He’s just happy to be on the national team, where only the best players are selected. It’s nice for my family to brag about me.”스포츠토토

As for the national team’s middle blocker, it is expected that Kim Gyu-min, who is the most advanced in terms of skill or performance, will occupy one spot, and Kim Min-jae and the rest of the players will compete for the other spot. Kim Min-jae said, “When I go to Jincheon, I want to practice until I die so that I can become the starting pitcher. If you win the starting position, you will be recognized that much, so I want to go and exercise as soon as possible. I am excited at the thought of joining the national team.”

◆ “I will try to be on an equal footing with soccer player Kim Min-jae”

At the end of the interview, he brought up the story of having the same name as Kim Min-jae of soccer. Kim Min-jae said, “There were several articles about soccer player Kim Min-jae and I having the same name, but I thought, ‘Did Kim Min-jae see the article, would he know that volleyball player Kim Min-jae also exists? He’s one of the best players out there. It feels good to be compared to a good player. I want to do my best so that I can be on an equal footing.”

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