Road to Argentina – Part 10
“Now is the time to reap the fruits of our labour.”
Chilean striker Alvaro Mödinger is looking forward to his fourth World Cup appearance. The 27-year-old industrial engineer has already played in the Austrian league for two years and also reached the 5th place with Chile at the World Games 2013. He talks about the upward tendency of Chilean fistball and what the fistball team has in common with the soccer national squad, who won the Copa America this year.
IFA: In less than a month the World Championship in Argentina starts. How well prepared is the team from Chile?
Alvaro Mödinger: For this World Championship we prepared very well, we are growing older and have more international experience. Since Christian Dähling entered the federation as head coach in 2003, we improved a lot and had three generations of fistball players that are competing on a high level. Now is the time to reap the fruits of our labour. For the last five months we were training 3-4 times a week and spent quite a lot of time in the gym. We are friends on and off the field, we are playing together, partying together and even play soccer in our club as well. This strong team spirit will help us at the World Cup.
IFA: In the last couple of years the Chilean team stunned the fistball world with good results (6th at the WC 2011 and 5th at the World Games 2013). What are the goals for the upcoming World Championship?
Alvaro: We started bad in the preliminary round at the last international tournaments, nevertheless we could improve our playing level throughout the tournament and that’s why we reached that good results. For us it’s important to verify our chances to win against world class teams and coming along with that we want to qualify for the World Games 2017. Our dream would be to reach the semi-final.
IFA: The Chilean soccer team surprised everybody at the Copa America, where they became Champions of South America. Do you think this sensation could also take place in fistball?
Alvaro: Our soccer team has a strong fighting spirit and the players are proud to wear the Chilean jersey and give everything they have when they are on the pitch – just like we do. We continued to improve our results, so we will see where this will take us.
IFA: What about the fistball in Chile? How many people are playing and do you have a league system and junior teams?
Alvaro: Over the last four years the playing level and the number of teams increased. We have large tournaments where at least 18 teams are competing for the title and one final event. Altogether we have about 200 active players in three cities (Llanquihue, Los Ángeles and Santiago de Chile). There is also a lot going on in the youth sector, kudos to the clubs and coaches like Mr. Saulo Zanlorenzi (coach from Brazil) who made it possible to establish youth championships in the country.
IFA: Shortly after the World Championship in Argentina the next big international fistball event is going to happen in Chile. The Masters World Cup for will be held in Llanquihue from 26th-29th of November. Are the preparations for the event in time?
Alvaro: It’s going to be a world-class tournament for sure. There is still a lot of work to do, but my father, Hernán “Nancho” Mödinger, and the OC are doing their best to host a good event. The Club Gimnástico Alemán in Llanquihue has already experience with big fistball tournaments as they hosted the Men’s World Championship 1992, the Masters World Cup 2000 and the Youth World Cup in 2006. I’m going to be there to watch good fistball games and enjoy the atmosphere of the event.
IFA: You played for Laakirchen in the Austrian league for two seasons. What are the biggest differences between fistball in Austria and fistball in Chile?
Alvaro: It was always my dream to play in Europe and after I finished my university degree this dream came true. While, in Chile we are playing tournaments every 2-3 months, in Austria you can play against the best teams of the country almost every weekend.
IFA: How big are the chances to see you in the Austrian league again?
Alvaro: It’s definitely possible, but if I come back I would connect my stay with work-related issues. There are a lot of great memories of my time in Laakirchen, it was one of my best experiences in my life so far. Of course I’m still in contact with Laakirchen coach Ernst Almhofer and maybe one day I’ll be back again.
IFA: What do you expect of the World Championship in South America after two terrific events in Europe (Germany 2007 and Austria 2011)?
Alvaro: I think it’s going to be a tough high-level competition with South American atmosphere. The host federation of Argentina has been working hard for the last year to organise a world-class event. I hope the local people use their chance to view the best fistball teams of the world in their country. It’s the Men’s World Championship, the biggest international fistball event, they shouldn’t miss out on that.