Off to Odense 8: Michael Neuland
16 Aug 2009 at 08:49 | Published by: Hans | Views: 6132 | News search
Michael Neuland, Head Coach of Germany (Photo by Michael Neuland 2009)
Interview with Michael Neuland, Head Coach of Germany.
HB: First of all thank you for letting Minigolfnews interview you.
HB: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself to those who donít know you. Who is Michael Neuland?
MN: Short trivia: I have a family with two 9 and 6 years old sons. They are not really interested in Minigolf right now ;-). Iím a big fan of handball sports and like to spend free time with some working or playing football with my sons in our garden.
Profession: chemical engineer in laboratory techniques, working at the department of product safety of a big chemical-pharmaceutical company
Year of birth: 1964
Start of Minigolf career: 1977 in BGC Dormagen, from 1984-2008 in MGC Brechten player in 1. Bundesliga. From 1984-2000 in national team. Since 2008 Head Coach.
Make of club: Caddy P3
Favourite ball: 083, SV Switzerland 97, H4
Favorite surface: I do not prefer any special surface. I play all systems just as well and at the same level of skill. Each system has its own charm.
Technical tip: Generally, I think that plays using the cushion as well as putting are trained too seldom. That is where many players have their deficits and where they could improve their play.
Coaching Tip: Always keep your eyes open, follow and evaluate how other play and compare with your own way of playing.
HB: This is your second year as Head Coach for Germany or Bundestrainer as itís called in Germany. Have you ever felt doubts about taking on as coach for one of the most successful teams in the Minigolfworld?
MN: No, after all I have many years of experience from the world of Minigolf. I played 13 EC/WC as a player and I was also active in the 1. Bundesliga for many years. So I know how international major tournaments work, what things are important for the players and what you must think of as a trainer.
Of course there is nothing that says that a former good player also will be good as coach, but so far I am satisfied with my work. The players are also very engaged and the whole trainer-team works very well together.
HB: What is the secret behind the really successful German Teams year after year?
MN: I donít think there is a hidden secret here. We have many strong and established players, but often also some newcomers, who we managed to integrate successfully to the team.
Furthermore we play the 3 most important surfaces (felt, eternite, concrete) equally often in the 1. Bundesliga. This has improved our skill level at the felt system. Since we also constantly meet new courses, our players are confronted with different playing variants as well as different ball materials which help improving their flexibility and skill.
HB: Which has been your best moment so far as Head Coach?
MN: My first championship as head coach in Tampere last year, winning the gold medal with both men and women teams. The teams offered a very constant performance.
HB: And which was the toughest moment so far as Head Coach?
MN: This year it was the nomination of the men's team for the WC, since I had to leave some really good players at home.
HB: How long are you planning to stay as Head Coach for the German Team?
MN: I donít see a specific time limit for my Head Coach assignment. It still gives me a lot of fun - but I only plan from year to year. I spend much time on it and it is not easy to combine with work and especially family life.
HB: You are soon to leave for Odense. What are your expectations of the performance on the German Teams in Odense?
MN: We are very well prepared and expect to make our best performance and a good tournament.
HB: What are your favourites for medals in the Team Competition on menís and ladies side?
MN: The world of Minigolf see the Swedish men as favorites this year, due to the fact that they are unbeaten so far in the combination felt/eternite. But they have to be able to handle the pressure to win. Germany will try to take the given chances if there is any. Behind these nations I see Austria and Switzerland as pretty equal.
The German women won already 2003 in Bad MŁnder, although they had the advantage of home ground, but still they proved it was possible to beat the Swedes. I think the shape of the day will decide. Also the Swiss team canít be excluded, they have shown a strong performance the last years, on which they continue to build.
HB: Are there any nations or players that you think will have a breakthrough this year?
MN: I donít think other nations have made such progress that you can expect a breakthrough in the team competition. But maybe Denmark can get a better rank this year with help from the audience.
Maybe we will also see some single player make an extraordinary performance, like we saw Csaba Palinkas do.
HB: You have picked some new names for this yearís German Team. Marco Henning, Sascha Spreier and also again Achim Braungart-Zink on the men's side and again Stefanie Kern on the ladies side. Do you have any comments about why you nominated those names?
MN: Achim is constantly proving his skill. He was not in the team last year, but was in the team the last 4 years before that. This year he has proven to be in good shape, therefore he is back in the team.
Steffi has experience from both EC and WC and will replace Bianca, who couldnít participate this year due to professional reasons.
Sascha Spreier had great success as youth player and managed to take place in this year WC-Teams due to his performance in the Bundesliga.
Marco Henning could this year finally show hiss kill. He had a great season so far, is the reigning German Champion and he is this years newcomer in our team.
HB: The international audience is maybe missing some top names from the past years Germany Teams like Bianca Oberweg, Daniel Klosek and Marco Balzer. Where they not available for your squad this year?
MN: As said before, Bianca is missing due to professional reasons. Marco Balzer has recently become a father and Daniel is one of the 3-4 players who missed the nomination with close margin this year. After all, there is only place for 7 players.
HB: Can you mention any favorites as you see it for the individual medals in Odense?
MN: The distribution of the medals is of course depending on the outcome of the KO-final. In the qualification rounds I expect players like Olsson, Erlbruch, Ryner, Brown, Geist and Templin to be in the top. In the ladies category, Sandra Weaver is obviously in very good shape.
HB: There has been much discussion on the Internet about the new KO modus played in the individual finals at international championships. What is your opinion about the KO-modus?
MN: I am no big fan of the KO-modus, although this is my personal opinion. Germany have maybe gained advantage of the KO-modus the last years, since this is a modus which suits some of our players well. But I look critical to the fact, that a player who performed only at an average level for 3 days (ranked 20-30 in the men's category), can get him self a medal only due to a good daily shape.
If you necessarily need to use the KO-modus, I find it better to let only the 8 best of each category play the KO-finals.
HB: What is your opinion on the limited training time allowed in Odense?
MN: I find it good and very interesting. It will be exciting to see how the players handle this very limited time for training. It will also be hard for the coaches.
However this is probably not something we will see so often in the future, that the courses are prepared so short before the start of the tournament.
HB: What is your opinion about the concept of playing championships indoors?
MN: The big advantage is that we do not depend on the weather. Disadvantage may be a tight area for the courses, bad air and a higher level of noise.
If there are many spectators it may however contribute to a motivating atmosphere, but we will wait and see how many will come and watch.
HB: There is much focus in some countries on MOS-courses and especially artificial grass courses. The first competitions have been played with various impressions amongst competition players. What is your opinion about artificial grass as a competition arena?
MN: I still havenít heard from any high value MOS-tournaments from a sporty view, I also havenít played any MOS-course myself. My personal opinion is, that when you build a course like this, you have to guarantee that skill, and not luck, decides, otherwise MOS will not be here to stay.
HB: The youth world championships 2010 will be played at a MOS beton course in Socci, Russia. What do you think of this development with MOS courses entering the Championships?
MN: I find it positive that we through the Russians have a new organizer for international tournaments. Hereby you may also get new active players in this big country. Weather the MOS-courses are fair and rewarding skill, not luck, will show in 2010. The pictures I have seen tell me that may very well be the case. Anyway I wish the Russian organizers the best of luck with the championships.
HB: It has been some debate in recent years on the Internet about the referees in international competitions, and especially the timekeeping of players. Do you have any comments about the referees or the time rules at championships?
MN: There are good and of course also less good referees. The important thing is that the referees have a common line and handle all players and nations the same way.
HB: Again thanks for participating a good luck with the team in Odense.
MN: Thank you very much