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10MA Interview with Head of Mongolian Football Federation, Mr. GANBAATAR Amgalanbaatar



November 24, 2015


On Mongolian Football’s Role in Hosting an International Tournament, Developing the Next Generation of Footballers, and Promoting the Spread of Women’s Football

Mongolian football is building itself, along with a push for future development by the Mongolian Football Federation (MFF), by hosting two AFC preliminaries and concluding its first partnership agreement with the Japan Football Association (JFA) as a partner member of the EAFF union. We asked MFF head GANBAATAR Amgalanbaatar to talk to us about the current state of Mongolian football, as well as any future developments.

About the AFC U-16 championship preliminaries host country

-Could you tell us how Mongolia was chosen as the host country for the Group K preliminaries?

The Elective Ordinary Congress was convened this February and the Statute of MFF was ratified in line with FIFA Statute. Shortly afterwards, the newly elected President and its bodies resolved to promote football under the aims of peace, solidarity and unity. To support and seeking our own contribution to achieve this overarching goal, the MFF applied to AFC proposing to host AFC U16 Championship Qualifiers Group K as 16-20 in September in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. So, we are profoundly delighted to receive the approval letter from AFC for giving us the opportunity to host such a prestigious competition in my country. The report by AFC Inspector who visited Ulaanbaatar this June for monitoring and inspection of host venue and other matters served as one of the solid bases to make that decision. We are excited, proud and also are fully aware of the tremendous responsibility we assume with hosting this wonderful event.

-Though most of the players are still young, it must be a precious experience for many local Mongolians to see strong teams such as Japan play live in your own country. What other legacies would you like to leave Mongolia and the Mongolian people through hosting this preliminary?

As for participation in the competition, the U16 national team, which might parent Mongolia’s senior national team in due course, was called for the first time in the history of the Mongolian national team. In comparison with higher class national teams such as Japanese national team, of course, we have a lot to learn, but we look ardently forward to this competition as we will earn more experience, both the players and coaches. On the other hand, our national team is being “diagnosed” for where we are at this juncture. We do believe that our national team would improve our performance based on the knowledge and experience we derive from such competitions and teams.

The other stakeholders of football especially fans and sponsors have learned technique and tactics of more professionalized teams from the competition. Also, the MFF shared the opportunity to the football fans to enjoy the real performance from internationally renowned teams by hosting the competition in our home. We realized that our fans have much more passion and desire, contrary to our expectations. This will be a celebration, a thorough and profound celebration of Football – team-spirit, competition, hard work and of course, success. This will be a master-class show for our young players and a splendid performance for the widest Mongolian circle.

-How do you intend to use the experiences gained from hosting the preliminaries to further improve Mongolian football and the status of the domestic football scene in Mongolia? Please tell us more about your Strategic plan for 2012-2022.

What we have learned from the competition is that the grassroots is the most significant target for creation of prosperous and successful national teams for all age categories. This means that we need to build the proper and accurate fundamentals for giant football pyramid where the national team is on top. To achieve this, we will put more emphasize on the grassroots and youth football by facilitating education and training activities.

Compared with the countries where the football has attained a professional level, we are at the semi-professional level. Addressing the gap between professionals and semi-professionals, we have elaborated the MFF long term strategic plan in 2011 thanks to the FIFA PERFORMANCE Program with 12 goal areas, 50 objectives and approximately 500 action plans. The MFF has run its operations along the lines of the long term program since 2011. The MFF has put more energy and effort to make the objectives on the paper into practice and the field of football.

-It must be exciting to host international preliminaries. What kind of preparations did your national team do for the games?

Of course, it is such a great feeling to host as well as to take part in the competition representing Mongolia in our home country. However, there are huge responsibilities as well.
The preparations for U16 national team have started when the head coach was appointed by the MFF Executive Committee members. The team has been trained for two months prior to kicking off the match.

The team participated in the Silk Road International Competition in Weinan, China in 10-14 August, 2015 for make them feel the real game pressure and face the real performance on the field. Also, our senior national team helped and shared what they know to their younger fellows by playing with them friendly matches.

-Though the preliminaries have already started, please tell us how your strategy to compete in this preliminary.

I am not sure about the strategy of our national team but I am fully aware that the team is physically and mentally prepared very well. The head coach knows about it very well. Everything is on head coach’s hands.

-Looking back on the preliminaries, how do you think your team has performed as the host country in the games you have played? Please give us a summary of your thoughts on 1) the running of the event, and 2) the results of your team in this tournament.

Match results: Japan wins consecutive games and progresses to the finals
Mongolia 0 – 17 Japan
Hong Kong 5 – 2 Mongolia
Japan 7 – 0 Hong Kong

We are not fully satisfied with the result of the competition but we are still proud of our boys because they tried very hard to compete against high-class teams.

As for hosting the competition, we received huge compliments from the AFC on the basis of a report by an expert who paid a visit during the competition. It was an utmost motivation and tremendous encouragement for our staff and the MFF to host more and more competitions in the near future.

Regarding to the result of the competition, of course, we lost the game but it left us the strong passion for becoming winners in future competitions. It was too much a pressure for our team because it was organized in home country with hundreds of supporters and spectators who always want the victory on the field. I believe that the competition opened our boys’ eyes.

About the partnership signed with the Japan Football Association

-On 15th September you concluded an agreement with the Japan Football Association (JFA). You are the eighth country in Asia that the JFA has concluded an agreement with, and the first EAFF affiliate country to reach such an agreement. Please tell us, in as much detail as possible, how and why you have decided to sign this agreement with the JFA.

Yes, and thank you for asking that question. It is, indeed, a matter of great honor and pride for us to be the first EAFF affiliate country to conclude that agreement with Japan. Mongolians have always aspired premiership, pioneering, leading. And this is not the only case of this national sentiment (smiling).

I think everyone is aware that the Japan Football Association is strong MA on and off the field of football. Particularly, their women’s football is the winner of FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 and runner up of FIFA World Cup Canada 2015. We also accord high significance to women’s football in Mongolia. Therefore, the MFF has decided to pursue partnerships and agreements to work in the field of women’s football.

In fact, there are so many other powerful and strong MAs in EAFF and AFC. I would like to state that we very welcome to have bilateral cooperation with them in each goal area of football because, eventually, we are all one big friendly football family.

Details of the agreement

-What significance does the signing of the agreement have for the Mongolian Football Association?

The agreement is crucial not only for just women’s national team but also the women’s football, in broader sense, in Mongolia. Women’s football can be developed promptly like watering the buds together. The outcome from the agreement will be visual at least in the next four to five years.

-How do you envision yourselves utilizing the agreement?

It has been agreed to dispatch a coach who will work with the U14 national team of Mongolia next spring. I believe it will open the doors for our women’s football community.

Current trends in Mongolian football (interest and enthusiasm of Mongolian people in Football, the football league, and development of new players)

-Mongolia has long and cold winters – with the temperature sometimes dropping to -45C. What are your plans in further popularizing the sport of football in cold climate condition?

You are right about the football season being very short in Mongolia. It lasts only for maximum 6 months. Football is very much dependent on the climate conditions in Mongolia. So we have planned to train in different countries where the climate is mild. Currently, training in other countries’ camps is under the negotiation process.

-Following the AFC U-16 championship preliminaries, you are scheduled to host the Eastern Zone Qualifies of the Asian Futsal Championship in November. Do you feel that the Mongolian population is showing a heightened interest in football? If so, could you kindly give us an example of how this can be observed through your fans?

Yes, we were approved to host the next competition as AFC Futsal Championship Qualifiers Group A in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia this November. We see futsal as the kind of sports that would develop rapidly in Mongolia for we have a short football season.

In recent years, international competitions uniting thousands of people around the world under one aim such as UEFA Champions League, Europa League and Premier League are broadcast live in Mongolia. It becomes the main leverage football as nearly number one sport in Mongolia, which has traditionally been a wrestling country.
To enable Mongolians to enjoy many more international matches and not just through TV screens, we sent our request to AFC to host the above mentioned competition.

-Lastly, it appears that Mongolian football is currently in a phase of maturation, with the country also seeing an increase in the number of upcoming international fixtures. Could you please highlight the strengths and points all Asian football fans should to keep an eye on when watching the Mongolian national team?

I would like to ask one question from Asian fans that if there is any national team except Mongolian national team whose players can survive by playing the football under close to minus 45 degree Celsius. I can proudly say, not many. The features of our national team are physical and mental endurance, agility as well as durability. Thus, I recommend fans who are dedicated to football to keep up with the current information and updates through, the MFF official site

Let us stand tall together for Football, which is a source of genuine happiness for billions of people around our one blue planet! It is indeed an endless source of inspiration for ever.