Olaf Neuenfeld (Coach) and Fabian Sagstetter (Defensive Player) – Germany
“We are perfectly prepared for the World Cup, we are ready to start off right now!”
We asked Olaf Neuenfeld (National Coach since 2005) and Fabian Sagstetter (National Player since 2009) about the aims of the German National Team in Argentina.
IFA: At the moment, all international titles, from youth to women or men, are at held by the Germans. The only exception is the European Cup for the U18-Girls. The German Eagle on the chest seems to be a guaranty for the gold medal. What is the reason for this dominance over the last two years?
Neuenfeld: If you look on the results of the single finals, you can see, that every match was very close und could have ended the other way around. That is only a momentum, but a really nice, I have to admit. A guaranty for gold doesn’t exist but you have to work hard for every single success.
Sagstetter: It is a great state, that all important titles are in Germany, but we shouldn’t relax on it. To celebrate success in the future the youth work should be forced, the other nations are working as painstaking as we do. All the international top teams are playing on a level very close to each other.
IFA: Was it only because of an earlier change to young players compared to Austria or Switzerland?
Sagstetter: We started with the introduction of young players to the team some years ago and now we are very well-rehearsed with our team. Switzerland started in 2012 and became European Champion directly. In Austria I expect to see more young talents in the next years too.
Neuenfeld: I hope, there will be a longer run of success, but with that density of world-class athletes you never can be sure of. The other nations also give trust to their younger players and work similar like we do.
IFA: At the age of 25, Fabian is one of the most experienced players on the team, but Germany is still winning all the titles. What is Germany doing different than the other nations? Or is it simply a “Golden Generation”?
Neuenfeld: We had won no titles between 2001 and 2011. In 2005 we finally started, to look for talents in the whole country on junior level. At this first training course names like Fabian Sagstetter, Patrick Thomas, Sebastian Thomas, Tim Albrecht, Niklas Ehrhardt, Carsten Scheerer and Mats Albrecht appeared for the first time. All these players are part of the national team now and this work in the youth is also responsible for the success now. But sure you can say that we are having a “Golden Generation” at the moment.
Sagstetter: I think in the last years, we always had a very good mix of young and experienced players. With Roland Schubert and Hartmut Maus we got two first-class coaches in our U18 and U21 national teams, who are bringing talents for the A-Team all the time.
IFA: Fabian, you have been to Colombia, Namibia, Taiwan and everywhere in Europe as a player. How can you compare the enthusiasm for fistball all over the world?
Sagstetter: I felt the enthusiasm in every single of those countries. Of course the World Games in Taiwan and Colombia were very special, because lots of spectators there saw fistball for the first time. And the both World Cups in Germany 2007 (as a visitor) and Austria 2011 (as a player) showed, that big fistball tournaments are real events and can fill up whole stadiums.
IFA: Olaf, a few days ago we could see a shirt on facebook honouring you for the 10th consecutive year as coach. Have ever thought about retiring from the team? How many titles do you want to win before this happens?
Neuenfeld: I thought about quitting this job after the World Games 2013 because of private reasons. I enjoy the work with the guys and so I redeemed it. I renewed my contract with the DFBL until 2017. There are there big competitions in this period, so you know what we want. (laughs) I don’t know what’s coming after the end of this contract but it isn’t important for me at the moment.
IFA: Fabian, you won every possible title with the national team (U18 European and World Champion, U21 European Champ, Men’s European- and World Champion and World Games winner). The only one with more titles is Patrick Thomas, because he won everything with his club too. Is there a danger of getting bored because of no more goals, like it happened with Magdalena Neuner (German biathlete), who retired at the age of 25 or is fistball fun enough?
Sagstetter: The joy I have with playing fistball is high enough and I’m very motivated in every training and every match. Every Game with the eagle on the chest is very special and a big honour for me and I hope I can play on this level for some more years. The reason why Patrick is that successful is the way they work in Pfungstadt. And also the national team benefits from the high level in Pfungstadt.
IFA: How is the atmosphere on the team between the players? And how is the relationship to the coaches? Is Olaf a tyrant or is he simply the part of the team who is a little bit older?
Neuenfeld: Me and Chris (Löwe) try to be part of the team. Of course sometimes the coaches are sitting for their own, to discuss intern things, but mostly we are close to the players. It is always fun with us and I am known for a little self-mockery. I think the relation between players and coaches is pretty good. I hope the opinion of the players is similar. (laughs)
Sagstetter: I can only agree. I am part of the team since 2009 and the whole team known for a very good team spirit, even when we had no success. Chris and Olaf have a clear opinion, but also ask about ours.
IFA: And the last question: Can the current World Champion have a different goal apart from standing on top of the podium again?
Sagstetter: We worked very hard, prepared very well and have a strong team. So the aim is the win the title again.
Neuenfeld: Of course our aim is to win the World Championship. Nobody would believe anything different and we wouldn’t do as well. We are responsible for our favorite role ourselves by the success in the last years and we accept this gladly. But we didn’t rest on this and worked as intensive and hard like never before. Everyone took part and some players met by themselves for some extra sessions in the last weeks. We are perfectly prepared for the World Cup. We are ready to start off right now!
IFA: Thanks a lot for taking to us and good luck for the mission “title defence”.