Skyliner’s manager Marco Völler: “It’s not about me” |

Marco Völler has had a tough season. The former basketball professional switched to management at Skyliners Frankfurt – and experienced the first relegation in the club’s history.

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01:22 min

Völler: “In the end, you are not pushed down because someone makes a mistake”

Marco Völler calls with a mask on his mobile phone

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Marco Völler has finished his first year in a new position at the Bundesliga basketball team Skyliners Frankfurt. The former professional switched to the desk in Hesse as a manager sport. At the same time, he laced up the basketball shoes for the youngsters in Pro B.

However, the season did not go well for either team. The professionals relegated from the Bundesliga, but are now hoping for a wildcard for the new season. With the Pro-B team, Völler was able to avoid relegation in playdowns. Hr. Völler, you have just finished your first season with Skyliners Frankfurt as sports director. What went differently than you had imagined?

Marco Völler: I had not imagined that we would move down. I knew it was going to be a tough season because we had a relatively young team and a coach who had little experience with German basketball. And even I had absolutely no experience in my new position. And yet the descent was unexpected for you?

Völler: I still think it could have gone differently if we had not had injury problems so early. Later there were other injuries and illnesses and of course mistakes we made – the players, the coach, but also me. In the end, you are not pushed down because someone makes a mistake, but because many things go wrong. It is a collective failure. Did you have the feeling that coach Diego Ocampo, who was fired in March, was wrongly named a scapegoat?

Völler: Of course you can say that it is unfair. But that’s how it is in sport. We tried a lot this season, we signed on a lot. The accusation we have to listen to is: maybe the change of coach came too late. It’s part of the business. Every coach knows that. And also any sports director. When you take on that responsibility, it’s about success. How much did the relegation hit you?

Völler: It really hit me. Even though it had been safe for a while, I sat there after the last day of the match and thought, ‘Why? Yes we can.’ It was just unnecessary. And it’s so much the more bitter, sad and frustrating that it’s come this far. I especially feel sorry for the club. And for you personally? Is not this the worst possible start to your career as a sports director?

Völler: I never thought it would be bitter for me personally to be relegated in my first year. I actually do not care. This is not about me, it’s about Skyliners, about the club. I have a good chance here, and I certainly do not put too much pressure on myself, even though there is always a little pressure. But everything will find its way. And if not, I still have the luxury of having a funeral home in the maternal family. I have always said: If sports do not succeed, then I go to the funeral home (laughs). But aside from the joke, this is how it is in the sport: When things go badly, there are always a lot of experts who know better how it should have gone and which players should have been picked up. How much was Marco Völler on the current team?

Völler: With 14 players, there were maybe two or three that can be attributed to Marco Völler. But no player has decided on his own. There was a list of players that we prepared, and then coach Ocampo, manager Gunnar Wöbke and I put our heads together. How important is it to involve the coach in squad planning? For example, Ingo Freyer lets basketball play much faster than other coaches in BBL. But for that, he needs the right staff.

Völler: It’s good that you mention Ingo Freyer. As a player, my contract in Gießen was extended early by the management. For the new season, however, Ingo Freyer replaced Denis Wucherer as coach. And after a few weeks, it became clear: Marco Völler does not fit Ingo Freyer’s style of play at all. And then you have a player sitting there who is not happy because he is not playing and you have to look at how best to terminate the contract. These are problems that you obviously want to do without. Luca Dalmonte, who replaced Diego Ocampo during the season, could not prevent relegation, but still won a number of matches at the end of the season. Do you want to continue working together in him?

Völler: I would not completely rule it out, but I would be happy if you could find a coach who knows German basketball. If it’s up to me, it can also be a German coach, but it’s not a must. He just needs to know the league, BBL, Pro A. That’s a huge advantage in the end. You do not know exactly which league to play next season. If the decision is made within the next few weeks, how long will it take you to unveil a new manager?

Völler: If I can choose, then we even have it in advance. In my opinion, there are suitable candidates who can play in both leagues. But once we know which league we’ll be playing next season, it will hopefully take no more than two days. In addition to your new job, you also played in Pro B for Skyliners Juniors. Was it your last season as an active player?

Völler: It has not yet been decided. It was very exhausting at times during the season. The time required for the leadership sport position is very large. You basically have seven days a week because you are out traveling with both teams on the weekends. It’s been nine tough months. Would you have been just as tough if both teams had done better?

Völler: That, of course, is the question. No idea. Right now I’m just at a point where I’re saying, ‘It was very exhausting’. But I still enjoy playing basketball and I’m reasonably healthy. If I do not do something for a few weeks, then I will definitely say: ‘I’m in the mood to play again. Come on, I’m doing another season. ‘

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The interviewer was Gerald Schäfer

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