Legendary Feng Kun: An inspirational leader for now
TIJUANA, Mexico, October 5, 2013 – In her playing days, not long
time ago, Feng Kun was the consummated volleyball setter, a
mastermind behind the success of China’s women team with the
fingers of a harp player and feline-like eyesight and reflexes
as her main weapons.
It was not by accident that “Panda”, as she was nicknamed, won
the unofficial title as the best setter in the world.
Following her retirement in 2011 season it was somehow logical
to imagine her as a coach and mentor for the young generation of
Chinese players, but the MVP of the women’s tournament at the
2004 Olympic Games is not ready the accept the challenge of
being a coach, at least for the time being.
“I really never thought about it,” Feng said while attending the
General Technical Meeting of the FIVB Women’s U23 World
Championship as China’s Team Manager. “I am just relaxing my
body and trying to enjoy my life at this moment.”
She didn’t dismiss totally the idea, by adding: “Probably in the
future I would give it a try, but not for now.”
To mentor young players, especially setters, is a different
“I am retired from playing but I am not far away from
volleyball,” she explained. “I am close to the volleyball family
and I want to transmit all of my experience to the young
Wang Na is one of the current setters in the senior team of
China with good qualities that need to be polished, according to
“I think of Wang Na because she is young (currently 23) and also
has a good body and a good technique,” she commented. “But she
needs to practice more and take that step to improve herself.”
Feng hung her sneakers at the age of 33, which is considered
premature for players of her position who usually stay active
until their late 30’s.
“I don’t think I was young when decided to retire,” she said.
“The last two years of my playing career, my body was not as
strong as it used to be and I have had a knee surgery. So it was
the appropriate time to leave.”
As the captain of China squad in the past decade, she helped her
team to win multiple gold medals in FIVB competitions, including
the Grand Champions Cup in 2001 and the World Grand Prix and the
World Cup in 2003. She also won a gold medal in Athens and the
bronze in the Beijing Games.
“The gold medal of the Olympic Games is a very nice memory that
will be forever in my mind,” she confessed. “I hope I can live
another moment like that in my future. I played for many years
and feel lucky to have won that gold medal.”
China is now ranked No. 5 in the world rankings but it is placed
atop of the junior and youth rankings a sign of good things to
come in the near future.
“It takes a long process to win more gold medals and I hope
China to be a strong team again,” Feng acknowledges. “They need
to work very hard, to get a good teamwork and enjoy the game.
That’s what volleyball is about.”
A new generation of Chinese players is in Mexico to participate
in the inaugural FIVB Women’s U23 World Championship and Feng
hopes they can get a much needed experience.
“Our team started their preparation just one month ago,” she
admitted. “As we try for the best result possible I hope they
can benefit from a vast experience.”
“We have a very strong team but they need to go step by step
because the other teams are also strong in Pool B,” she said.
“First we need to reach the top four and then start thinking
about being number 1. To have a good first game is very
important to build the confidence.”
Feng Kun and the Chinese team were among the first teams to
arrive in Mexico for the competition and held a training camp at
Baja California High Performance Center in Tijuana.
“For me it is the first time coming to Mexico and everything has
been good, the facilities and the food. We are trying to enjoy
ourselves and get the best result we can,” she concluded.
Volleyball fans around the world are for sure missing her rich
display of skills as one of the best setters ever, but they must
feel fortunate to have Feng Kun around as part of the family.