Heungkuk Life Insurance Pink Spiders, the ‘Volleyball Empress’ who brought up retirement concerns after becoming No. With 7 losses and 63 points, it has risen to the sole lead, beating Hyundai Engineering & Construction Hillstate, which has 61 points. Except for the brief rise to first place at the beginning of the season, it is actually the first ranking of the season. However, after the game, volleyball fans heard more surprising news than Heungkuk Life Insurance’s rise to No. 1. It was a shocking (?) interview with ‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung.
In an interview after the game, Kim Yeon-kyung said, “It would be a lie if I said (I have no intention of retiring). It is true that I have concerns and I am talking with the club.” Kim Yeon-kyung continued, “I thought it would be better to put it down when I was in the highest position. If I retire, it will be a decision based on that premise.” Of course, Kim Yeon-kyung emphasized that “I have not yet decided whether to retire,” but Kim Yeon-kyung’s remarks are bound to come as a considerable shock to volleyball fans.
Of course, all athletes have the right to decide when to retire. In particular, if you are Kim Yeon-kyung, the best player who led Korean women’s volleyball to the semifinals of the Olympics twice, no one other than herself can arbitrarily decide when to retire. However, if Kim Yeon-kyung leaves the court at the end of this season, the aftereffects that volleyball fans will receive will be much greater than expected. This is because volleyball fans are not yet ready to send ‘the best player in the history of Korean women’s volleyball’ Kim Yeon-kyung.
It is every athlete’s dream to say, “I want to leave with applause when I am in the best position without lengthening my career.” However, as Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain FC), who lifted the first World Cup championship in his life at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, mentioned the possibility of participating in the 2026 World Cup in North and Central America, players also want to be active as long as their bodies allow. And Kim Yeon-kyung is a player who can be called ‘Messi class’ in the current V-League.
Kim Yeon-kyung, who turned 36 in Korean age this year, no longer has the stamina to ‘hard carry’ the team, taking responsibility for an attack share that exceeds 40% in every game. In fact, Kim Yeon-kyung retired from his national team after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, Kim Yeon-kyung’s skills and presence on the court, which she is currently showing in the V-League, do not fall significantly compared to her prime. The proof is that Heungkuk Life Insurance, which ranked 6th last season, is competing for the lead this season after Kim Yeon-kyung joined.
This season, Kim Yeon-kyung ranks 5th in points (530 points), 1st in attack success rate (46.02%), 6th in serve-receive (47.36%), and 9th in dig (3.83 per set), playing an all-round performance in all areas of offense and defense. . In fact, Kim Yeon-kyung is the only player in the entire league, including foreign players, to record an attack success rate of over 45% and a receiving efficiency of over 45% at the same time this season. In a word, it means that Kim Yeon-kyung is the best offensive and defensive player in the V-League and a strong regular league MVP candidate this season.
In baseball or soccer, a player who won the Golden Glove that year or was included in the league’s BEST 11 is happy to think about how much his ransom will rise next season, but never worry about whether or not to retire. If Kim Yeon-kyung, who performed the most outstandingly in the league, chooses to retire at the end of this season, the level of the V-League next season will inevitably fall that much. The best player in the league retired when he was at his best, only Michael Jordan, the ‘Basketball Emperor’, in the history of sports around the world.
Retirement without enjoying FA qualification?
V-League players become free agents (FA) after six seasons. A player who achieves good results and obtains FA qualification may stay with the original team under better conditions than before, offer better conditions, or transfer to a team close to winning the championship. Free agency is a great opportunity for players who were selected by clubs to go through the rookie draft at the time of joining the pros, on the contrary, to choose the club they want to play for.
Unfortunately, however, Kim Yeon-kyung has never enjoyed FA status in the V-League. Kim Yeon-kyung, who has been active for four seasons after joining Heungkuk Life Insurance, has been active on the overseas stage for 11 years, going through leagues in Japan, Turkey and China after the 2008-2009 season. Even after returning home for the 2020-2021 season, he returned to the Chinese league again after one season. Therefore, when Kim Yeon-kyung ends this season, at the age of 36, she will have a fresh (?) experience of filling the FA qualification condition of ‘V-League 6 season’.
No matter how much his heyday has passed, there is a very high probability that Kim Yeon-kyung will become the greatest fish ever after the FA system is introduced. Mid- and low-ranking teams aiming to strengthen their power, teams that unfortunately did not reach the championship, and teams that want to keep their top spot will covet Kim Yeon-kyung, the best player who can significantly increase their team power. And many rumors and news pouring in during the Kim Yeon-kyung recruitment war will make volleyball fans unable to stop their interest in women’s volleyball even after the season ends.
Of course, since there is an annual salary ceiling of 2.3 billion won in the V-League, even if Kim Yeon-kyung obtains FA qualification, it is not easy to receive as much salary as when playing in European or Chinese leagues. However, in the past, no matter how outstandingly Kim Yeon-kyung played abroad, no matter how much she promoted national prestige as a national representative, when she returned to Korea, there was no other option than Heungkuk Life Insurance. Therefore, this free agency is too much of a waste for Kim Yeon-kyung to give up the right to choose the team he wants and choose to retire.
Fans do not want Kim Yeon-kyung to retire
When Kim Yeon-kyung was active in Europe, domestic volleyball fans did not have many opportunities to see Kim Yeon-kyung’s game in person. Of course, domestic sports cable TV relayed the game of Fenerbahce SK, where Kim Yeon-kyung belongs, but that alone could not sufficiently quench the thirst to see Kim Yeon-kyung. Therefore, whenever a national team game involving Kim Yeon-kyung was held in Korea, the stadium was always filled with volleyball fans to watch Kim Yeon-kyung’s game.
It is not difficult to see the ‘Kim Yeon-kyung effect’ if you look at the viewership ratings and crowd mobilization of women’s volleyball. The average viewership rating for V-League women’s matches until the third round of 슬롯사이트this season was 1.05%, overwhelming the men’s average viewership rating of 0.58% for the same period. The crowd also mobilized 149,215 people for the women’s division until the third round, far ahead of the 88,869 people for the men’s division. Heungkuk Life Insurance also sold out 5800 seats in the home stadium on November 13, 2022 against Korea Expressway Corporation High Pass and on December 24 against IBK Industrial Bank Altos.
In addition, Heungkuk Life Insurance set a record by attracting full crowds at all seven women’s clubs’ home stadiums. The time when Heungkuk Life Insurance made sold-out cases around the country was when the team atmosphere was chaotic due to the sudden resignation of manager Kwon Soon-chan. Volleyball fans visited the stadium and supported the players even during difficult times for Heungkuk Life Insurance. This was also the ‘Kim Yeon-kyung effect’, which had the most fans nationwide and won 82,297 votes in the all-star fan vote, recording the most votes for both men and women.
Kim Yeon-kyung is a player who understands the gratitude of fans better than anyone else, and is famous for her good fan service. And most of the fans who support Kim Yeon-kyung will not want Kim to end his career with this season. Of course, the final decision is up to Kim Yeon-kyung, and whatever choice he makes, the fans must respect that decision. However, volleyball fans are eagerly hoping that ‘Volleyball Empress’ Kim Yeon-kyung will choose to extend her active service life rather than retire.