"Iron Hammer" Lang recruits former internationals for China club

09:10, November 13, 2009      

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Former Chinese and U.S. national volleyball head coach Jenny Lang Ping signed a handful of former internationals to boost the Guangdong Hengda women's volleyball team after she took charge of the south China's club in August.

Hengda, China's first ever privately funded women's volleyball club, was officially launched on Tuesday and Lang hoped the former China aces, including Athens Olympic gold winners Feng Kun, Yang Hao and Zhou Suhong, will help the Serie B club with the promotion into the top flight.

"It's gonna be a hard work (to promote to the Serie A), but we will try our best. Hengda is a small club now and I wish these veterans will boost the chances of promotion and set role model for the team's teenage players," Lang told Xinhua.

"Our goal is to promote to the Serie A division."

Lang, 49, also guided China to the silver medal at the 1996 Olympics and last coached in China in 1998. She then spent six years coaching in Italy before replacing Japan's Toshi Yoshida as the U.S. women's coach in late 2004.

The Hengda campaign will be her first coaching job in her homeland in 11 years and her personal charm, according to the former national players, is the only thing that brought them to the club.

"Lang has been my idol since I took my career," said former China captain Feng. "I was called up by Lang when I was very young but then I still had to work hard to live up to her expectation soI missed the chances of playing at world events under her guidance."

"I rued the chances of playing in her national squad, and this time I hope I can learn more things from Lang," she added.

Feng's sentiments were echoed by her former teammates Zhou and Yang, who cited Lang's charisma as the real reason for them to come to play.

It was not easy to bring talents between different clubs under current volleyball system which put too much strain upon player transfer.

Hengda, who recently joined the Serie B division, have big ambitions to challenge Serie A giants like Team Tianjin, Jiangsu and Shanghai and even win the top flight. However, Lang knows she will face an uphill task to complete and she said the sport needed to adopt a more professional approach.

"Our league definitely needs changes. We have to become free in market and professional just like the way they do in basketball and soccer. Free transfers and imported stars from overseas will fast help develop the league," Land said.

Lang used her personal influence to also recruit two former U.S. internationals but she admitted that the job will be much tougher if the club ascend to Serie A division.

"In the long run, the veteran players will be stuck due to physical problems and under current transfer system we could not buy any new star players from other teams," said Lang, who has officially signed a five-year deal to coach the south China club.

Lang is mulling to set up a second-string team in Hengda club, hoping she can groom her own reserves for the regular line-up. She also hopes she can figure out some way to keep the form of the veterans.

Seven teams registered for this season's Serie B action, with the top two finishers into next season's Serie A. Hengda's first match will be against Team Hebei on Nov. 28.

Source: Xinhua
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