New Taeguk Ladies coach wants to allow players to express themselvesColin Bell, the new head coach of the Korean women’s national football team, doesn’t just want to be a tactician working the Xs and Os. He hopes he can be a teacher who allows his players to express themselves.
“The first step for me when I get to meet the players will be to create a good learning environment within the sport, and a good, safe atmosphere within the sport,” Bell said at his introductory press conference at the Korea Football Association (KFA) House in Seoul on Tuesday, four days after he was announced as the new boss for the Taeguk Ladies.
“That’s the basis for success,” he added. “And then [I want] to implement the style of play that hopefully will be successful, using the attributes that Korean players have, and using the attributes of culture of Korea and bringing in European touch I obviously have and to combine these together to create a playing style that will be and should be active.
“I believe players in this generation are overcoached,” he said. “I want to have players who can express themselves and be a game changer.”
Bell, the 58-year-old from England, is the first foreign national to coach the Korean women’s team. After playing in the Bundesliga in the 1980s, Bell has spent three decades coaching.
He’d been the Irish women’s team head coach from 2017 to June this year. Before accepting the Korean job, Bell was the assistant head coach for Huddersfield Town in the English Football League Championship.
Bell said he liked the potential of the Korean team and the distance the KFA is willing to go to improve the program.
“That was very attractive for me,” he said. “When you look at countries that have been successful, their football associations have invested and tried to do as much as they can to raise the quality of the game.”
Bell said his vision is to help Korea take the next step. They have played at each of the past two FIFA Women’s World Cups but failed to get beyond the first knockout round both times.
“Qualifying for two times in the World Cup is a great foundation for me to work on,” he said. “The aim and vision is to become more successful, not just to be able to qualify for tournaments, but also, when you get over the hurdle of qualification, then to be a force at tournaments and have a realistic chance of winning tournaments.”
Bell said once he finds his footing, he will try to highlight the importance of “preparation and detail.”
“We’ll try to dominate games, and the focus is to win,” he said. “This sounds obvious, but it’s not that easy when you play on the highest level. I want to create a mentality that we’re going to the pitch and we expect to win. It doesn’t matter who we play.”
Over his coaching career spanning 30 years, Bell said his teams have played “compact and organized” defense, which helped set up attacking opportunities.
“Football is a very complex sport,” he said. “The goal will be to simplify the game as much as possible and, in doing that, to increase the players’ knowledge of the game. Of course, on the pitch, it’s the players that are making the decisions. So I am very encouraging in that area.
“That’s why it’s important to have a good learning environment, so that the girls can take on a lot of responsibility themselves on the pitch,” Bell continued. “My job is to guide them and support them and bring them on to that next level. And I am confident that will happen.”
The KFA invited Bell to the United States to watch Korea play the U.S. team, coming off their FIFA Women’s World Cup title in June, in back-to-back friendly matches. Bell said he noticed how comfortable Koreans seemed with the ball, and that they were active and aggressive in their press in the second match as they held the Americans to a 1-1 draw.
One area where Korea needs to improve is defending set pieces, Bell said.
“It’s easier said than done, but you have to try to avoid conceding free kicks and corners, and that can be done through good defensive play,” he said.