“I knew that Korean Air was paying attention, but I am proud to be nominated.”
KEPCO, led by coach Kwon Young-min, received the second choice in the 2023 KOVO (Korea Volleyball Federation) Men’s Asian Quarter Tryout & Draft held at the Jeju Sun Hotel on the 27th and nominated Japanese libero Ryohei Iga.
Iga is 29 years old and has been playing for Panasonic in the Japanese league. He drew attention with his stable receive, dig, and fighting that always made the court noisy. He showed extraordinary presence in two practice matches.
Iga challenged to advance to the V-League with the intention of resigning. Iga is playing in the Japanese V.League, which has a semi-professional personality, not a pro. Although he is an unstable office worker, he can work until retirement without worrying about money after retirement.
However, Iga had a strong desire to play in a new league. In an interview the day before, he said, “If I can play in Korea, of course I have the mind to leave. If I had the opportunity, I would like to play in Korea for a long time,” he expressed his wish, and his dream came true.
Coach Youngmin Kwon said after the draft, “He is a good player. He is still younger than Jang Ji-won and Lee Ji-seok. He has a shaky part. He is now considering re-signing with Thais, and he sees Thais as a libero who can help. I like him, and if he melts well without straining, I think he will perform well. He has a wide range of defense and is good at fighting. I think he will do well.”
Iga said, “I was looking forward to playing volleyball in Korea, but I was very proud to be called by my name.”
Then, Iga laughed and said, “I knew that Korean Air was paying attention, but I didn’t know that other teams would pay attention.”
No matter how outstandingly he performed in the Japanese league and played an active role as the main team’s libero, he now has to show a new side of himself in a new league.
Lee Ga-do also said, “This is the first time I spend time in Korea. I want to do my best in every game. I want to show stable play without ups and downs.”
The goal is to win. The goal is the same as KEPCO, which has never won a championship since its establishment and has never had the experience of advancing to a championship.
He said, “I have won the Japanese league, but not in recent years. I really want to win in Korea.”
He played in a team with Issey Otake, an apositive spiker from Japan who was nominated by Woori Card, and Liu Hong-min, a Taiwanese outside hitter who goes to KB Insurance. They are now enemies, not friends.
After laughing, Iga said, “There is nothing bad about our relationship,” and added, “When you enter the game, you are the enemy. But off the court, I will get along just like a friend,” he smiled.